FDLE arrests Tampa woman for trafficking fentanyl

For Immediate Release
December 15, 2023
TAMPA, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested Renee Stephens, 32, of Tampa, on charges of trafficking in fentanyl, possession of controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of cannabis, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and maintaining a dwelling to traffic narcotics with minors present.
The investigation began in August when FDLE Tampa Bay special agents received a tip regarding Stephens’ drug trafficking activities. Over the course of three months, agents conducted controlled purchases with Stephens, totaling 58 grams of fentanyl. During one controlled purchase, agents witnessed Stephens handling fentanyl while holding her infant child.
On December 11, FDLE agents conducted a search of Stephens’ home, seizing 153 grams of fentanyl, 100 fentanyl pills and marijuana. Agents also located and seized 63 individually packaged snacks resembling children’s candy. The packages, made to look like chips, candy and cereal, contained marijuana. During the investigation, agents learned that Stephens was known as the “candy lady,” was reportedly selling drug-infused candy to children in the neighborhood.

During the investigation, it was also found that Vincent E. Stephens, Renee Stephens’ husband, who is currently incarcerated in state prison for drug-related charges, was working with his wife to facilitate these deals. He is charged with conspiracy to traffic fentanyl and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
FDLE Tampa Bay Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell said, “I applaud the hard work of our agents who continue to target and arrest fentanyl traffickers. The drug-infused candy this suspect was reportedly selling to children is every parent’s worst nightmare. FDLE and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office will hold her accountable.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This defendant, known as the ‘Candy Lady,’ endangered Floridians, including children by targeting and selling drug-infused candy, chips and cereal.  The Candy Lady conspired with a felon currently serving 20 years in prison on drug charges. In a law enforcement-controlled purchase, the woman even handed over fentanyl while holding her infant child. It is unconscionable that a mother would have this poison near her baby and sell it to others. I am thankful for our law enforcement partners for seizing the lethal amounts of fentanyl in this case, enough to kill nearly 80,000 people.”
Stephens was arrested and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on Dec. 13 and is being held on a $92,000 bond. The investigation is still active and ongoing. The case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
For Further Information Contact:
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

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