Florida ‘Candy Lady’ Sold Drug-Infused Treats to Children: Police

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Florida ‘Candy Lady’ Sold Drug-Infused Treats to Children: Police

A Florida woman, known as the “candy lady,” has been arrested after being accused of selling drug-infused snacks to children in her Tampa neighborhood, authorities said.

Renee Stephens, 32, of Tampa, was arrested on December 13 on charges of trafficking in fentanyl, possession of a 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 Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) announced in a statement on Friday.

The investigation began in August when FDLE Tampa Bay special agents received a tip regarding Stephens’ alleged drug trafficking activities. Over three months, agents conducted “controlled purchases” with Stephens, totaling 58 grams of fentanyl, the FDLE said. During one instance, agents said that they witnessed Stephens handling fentanyl while holding her infant child, according to the statement.

On December 11, FDLE agents searched Stephens’ home where they seized 153 grams of fentanyl, 100 fentanyl pills and marijuana, according to the statement, which noted agents also located 63 individually packaged snacks “resembling children’s candy.”

“The packages, made to look like chips, candy and cereal, contained marijuana,” FDLE said. “During the investigation, agents learned that Stephens was known as the ‘candy lady,’ was reportedly selling drug-infused candy to children in the neighborhood.”

Candy Lady Sold Drugs to Kids
Renee Stephens, 32, of Tampa, Florida, known as the “candy lady,” has been arrested after being accused of selling drug-infused snacks to children in her neighborhood, authorities said.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday to the FDLE for comment and an update on the case. At the time of publication, online jail records did not list an attorney for Stephens who could comment on her behalf.

During the investigation, FDLE agents found that Vincent E. Stephens, Renee Stephens’ husband who is currently serving a 20-year sentence in state prison for drug-related charges, was working with his wife “to facilitate these deals.”

Vincent Stephens is charged in this case with conspiracy to traffic fentanyl and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Mark Brutnell, the FDLE Tampa Bay special agent in charge of the case, said the drug-infused goodies that Renee Stephens was accused of selling to children is “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

“FDLE and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office will hold her accountable,” Brutnell said.

Moody said Renee Stephens “endangered Floridians,” including children by “targeting” and selling drug-laced snacks. The prosecutor said that the “candy lady” had enough fentanyl to kill thousands of people in a residence that she shared with her infant.

“In a law enforcement-controlled purchase, the woman even handed over fentanyl while holding her infant child,” Moody said in a statement. “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.”

Renee Stephens is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail on a $92,000 bond, according to FDLE, which adds that the investigation is still active and ongoing.

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