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Panama City fisherman finds 20 kilos of coke out at sea and now faces life

January 26, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Panama City fisherman finds 20 kilos of coke out at sea and now faces life

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Among fishermen in U.S. coastal cities the question is often posed albeit tongue-and-cheek what would you do if you came across a bail of illegal narcotics floating out at sea? Thomas Zachary Breeding, a local Florida fisherman, was posed with that very scenario when found 20 kilograms of cocaine afloat just off the coast of Panama City.

However, instead of contacting police, Breeding decided to set up his very own distribution network and as a result, he now faces life behind bars.

While out at sea Breeding discovered the 20 kilograms of cocaine and recruited others to distribute the drugs.

Authorities busted Breeding with four other co-conspirators last summer, all of whom were later indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

He and his co-defendants have all since pleaded guilty but what makes the case worse for Breeding is his several prior convictions for drugs possession and weapons offenses.

In a letter he wrote to the local Panama City Herald from the Washington County Detention Center, where he awaits sentencing, Breeding urged others not to make the same mistake he made.

“This changed my life, my way of thinking and it made me aware of the dangers that can be found offshore in the Gulf,” Breeding wrote.

“I want to let the people know the dangers and what not to do if this situation comes about,” he added.

Court records show prosecutors also charged Breeding with unlawfully transporting a firearm by a felon in connection with the incident.

Breeding said he was out at sea around 80 kilometers south of Panama City when he discovered a package he believed would help better his life but instead it could see him spend the rest of his days in a federal prison.

“I worked as a long line boat captain out of Panama City when I discovered the package containing the 20 kilos of cocaine,” Breeding wrote.

“I have no idea where the drugs came from and hadn’t ever been involved in the drug trade before. I was just a hard-working, young commercial fisherman,” he wrote.

In his guilty plea, Breeding said he uncovered the drugs in January 2016 and in June 2016 supplied portions to co-conspirators, Jeremy Patrick Hubbard, Benjamin Bailey McGraw, Jessica Renee Ashbaker, and Richard Kenneth Helms Jr. on consignment.

The four participants sold the coke and paid the proceeds back to Breeding.

It remains unclear how Breeding popped up on law enforcement’s radar. He was picked up by authorities while driving with a firearm in his vehicle in Walton County, which resulted in the weapons charge.

In addition to life behind bars, Breeding also faces a $4.25 million penalty when he and his four co-conspirators, are sentenced on Feb. 16th.

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