Clint Eastwood’s crime film ‘The Mule’ revolves around Earl Stones, a drug mule who works for a Mexican-based drug cartel. Earl uses his age, appearance, and demeanor to avoid the suspicion of authorities while delivering bags filled with cocaine. Meanwhile, a DEA agent named Colin Bates set out to bring down the operations of the cartel in the state by making some busts. Colin and his partner Trevino come to know about Earl as “Tata.” The film progresses through Bates’ efforts to capture Tata with the help of an informant. Intrigued by the character, we found out whether Bates has a real-life counterpart. Let us provide the answer!
Is Colin Bates Based on a Real DEA Agent?
Yes, Colin Bates is based on a real DEA agent. The character is based on Special Agent Jeff Moore, who worked in the DEA’s Detroit field division to play a key role in the capture of Leo Sharp, the real-life counterpart of Earl Stones. Moore’s career as a law-enforcement officer began when he joined the Kansas City Police Department, based in Kansas City, Missouri, as a street cop who dealt with domestic disputes and traffic violations. He eventually joined the narcotics division and went undercover. His identity was never revealed. In 2004, he joined the DEA in Detroit. In 2011, Moore’s investigation into the Sinaloa cartel’s activities in the state began with a two-kilogram cocaine bust.
Moore interrogated a dealer named Tusa, who led him to Ramon Ramos, who eventually decided to become an informant for the DEA. Ramos, according to himself, was the bookkeeper for a trafficking ring that was associated with the Sinaloa cartel. He opened up about the cartel’s operations in the state in return for immunity and entry into the witness-protection program. In September 2011, Moore had his first sighting of Sharp AKA Tata with the help of Ramos. “I was kind of surprised that he seemed like he was in pretty good health. When you hear 87 years old, you think of someone in a wheelchair. He was in good shape,” Moore told Sam Dolnick for a feature in The New York Times, which serves as the source text of the film.
The basis of Moore’s investigation was the information he garnered from eleven wiretapped phones. Moore and his team listened to cartel figures talking in Spanish and Tata was mentioned several times. The DEA agent described Sharp as an “urban legend.” In October 2011, Moore and his team joined hands with Trooper Craig Ziecina from the Michigan State Police. When Sharp was traveling, Ziecina pulled his truck over under the pretense of a traffic violation. Moore and others watched Sharp and Ziecina from a distance. Ziecina then searched Sharp’s truck and found five duffel bags with 104 kilos of cocaine.
Sharp’s arrest was a significant victory for Moore and the DEA since the former was renowned even among the superiors of the Sinaloa cartel. “Bosses in Mexico know of the Grandfather,” Moore added to Dolnick. Moore was astounded to know that Sharp used to embark on cross-country trips to deliver drugs for the cartel. “That’s a huge risk. You can tell there’s a long history of trust,” the DEA agent told Dolnick about the same.
Where is Jeff Moore Today?
Jeff Moore still works as a DEA Special Agent based in Detroit, Michigan. In a few months, Moore is going to complete twenty years of service in the federal agency. In 2022, he published a novel titled ‘The Quiet Houses: Fall of the Narcs.’ Inspired by true events, the book was published by Allestone Publications through Kindle Direct Publishing. The same revolves around his time as a law enforcement officer in Kansas City in the early 2000s, a period during which he worked closely with an informant named Tamera Mack.
“A lot of these true crime novels try to create these really grandiose stories that just incorporate unbelievable characters. The drug subculture has so many interesting smaller stories in it, a lot of smaller struggles and just really nefarious characters,” Moore told C&G Newspapers’ Macomb Chronicle. “In this book, you’re actually being introduced to real people selling drugs, and they’re not all Pablo Escobar. It just really portrays Kansas City in 2003 when there was an epidemic of crack houses and they were just sending these undercovers into these houses to try and close them down,” he added about his book.
In addition, he also serves as the executive producer of an upcoming project titled ‘19 Cleveland Street,’ which revolves around Inspector Fred Abberline’s last case. Moore considers his investigation into the Sinaloa cartel the biggest of his career. “I’ll never see another case like this,” he said about the same, as per Dolnick’s feature. Moore’s interests include visiting abandoned houses in the city of Detroit and sharing his experiences through his Instagram handle. The DEA agent has also chosen to keep his personal life private.
Read More: Is The Mule Based on a True Story?