DETROIT – A Phoenix woman whose frequent flying to Detroit earned her access to the cockpit has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for repeatedly hauling cocaine in her luggage.
The government says Cheryl Cheatham made nearly 40 trips to Detroit from Phoenix or Las Vegas before she was busted in 2016 with 37 pounds (17 kilograms) of cocaine. It was worth more than $500,000 and destined for a Detroit drug organization.
The 64-year-old was sentenced Wednesday in Detroit federal court. Prosecutors say she was the "ideal drug courier," unlikely to cause suspicion because of her age and gender. The government discovered a photo of a smiling Cheatham in a plane cockpit, apparently a reward for her many flights.
Cheatham's lawyer says she likely was manipulated due to mental health problems.