Fentanyl trafficker found guilty, facing up to 30 years, $500k fine

A man found guilty on Friday of Trafficking in Fentanyl (28 grams or more) is set for sentencing Feb. 6, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Walter Jim Roberson, 32, of Panama City, faces a minimum-mandatory 25-year sentence under Florida’s enhanced drug trafficking statutes, Prosecutor Jacob Cook said, and could get up to 30 years. He also faces a $500,000 fine. Jurors deliberated for less than an hour.

Prosecutor Jacob Cook addresses jurors during his opening statement.

“Hopefully this guilty verdict gets us one step closer to ending the Fentanyl epidemic that has cost so many lives in Bay County and across the country,” said prosecutor Jacob Cook.

Fentanyl has become the leading cause of narcotics overdose deaths in the country, in part because it is much stronger than other opioids, not as expensive, and varies in potency. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reports the drug is manufactured cheaply in Mexico and China, then smuggled into the U.S.

Because of its potency, illegally produced Fentanyl available on the streets can vary wildly in potency, which leads to overdoses. Two milligrams of Fentanyl is considered a lethal dose.

Prosecutor Jacob Cook presents evidence to jurors.
About 31 grams of seized Fentanyl
Defendant Walter Roberson










In this case, Panama City Police served a search warrant on a home June 23, 2022, and found approximately 47 grams of Fentanyl in the defendant’s room. Each gram contained enough Fentanyl to cause approximately 500 overdose deaths.

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Officers from the City’s Street Crimes Unit testified they had the defendant under surveillance as part of an ongoing investigation and observed him selling  Fentanyl on several occasions. They obtained a search warrant and served it the following day.

Basford thanked Panama City Police for the strong case it helped put together and for its proactive approach that stopped tens of thousands of doses of fentanyl from reaching the streets of Bay County.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.