Fentanyl trafficker found guilty, sentenced to 10 years

A Bay County jury took 19 minutes Friday to find a woman guilty as charged of trafficking in fentanyl and heroin, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Stephanie Anne Hoskins, 55, of Panama City Beach, was found guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl (4 grams or more), Trafficking in Illegal Drugs (4 grams or more), and Possession of Paraphernalia. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark sentenced the defendant to 10 years in prison, with a minimum-mandatory 3 years under Florida’s drug sentencing statutes. She was also fined $100,000.

Prosecutor Josh James called three witnesses and put on evidence proving the defendant and her roommate were under investigation for selling drugs by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division in June, 2021.  A Department of Corrections probation officer conducted a walk-through of the home June 28, 2021, and found a methamphetamine pipe.

RELATED NEWS: Death sentence for Caylor in murder, sexual battery of 13-year-old

RELATED NEWS: Man guilty of impregnating 12-year-old sentenced to Life in prison

The defendant and co-defendant both consented to a search, and Deputy Gage Cowart testified they recovered 6.02 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture. The defendant admitted to deputies that they were “cutting” the heroin with fentanyl – which is cheaper and stronger – and dividing it into 20 packages of 1/3 gram each to increase their profit.

“This is one of those cases where people think they are buying heroin but without their knowledge it’s laced with fentanyl,” James said. “And that’s extremely dangerous because fentanyl is a lot more potent and deadly than heroin and that is where the overdoses are happening.”

The Centers for Disease Control lists fentanyl overdoses as the leading cause of death for Americans between 18-45 years of age.

“A lot of those overdose deaths are a result of people thinking they’re buying heroin or meth when it’s secretly laced with fentanyl,” James said. “Dealers do it for a larger profit margin while putting people at risk.”

Basford credited the Sheriff’s Office for its work seeking out fentanyl dealers and helping to get them off the streets.

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