An undercover sting operation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has exposed a sinister drug operation in the heart of Tampa. The mastermind behind this nefarious scheme, Renee Stephens, 32, has been arrested on charges of fentanyl trafficking and possession, among other serious offenses.
The investigation into Stephens’ illicit activities began in August, following a tip that alerted the FDLE to her drug trafficking endeavors. Over the course of three intense months, dedicated agents meticulously gathered evidence, leading to a series of controlled purchases of a staggering 58 grams of fentanyl from Stephens herself.
What makes this case even more disturbing is the revelation that Stephens was brazenly involving her own infant child in her criminal activities. During one of the undercover purchases, agents witnessed the shocking sight of Stephens holding her innocent child while handling the deadly drugs. Such blatant disregard for the safety and well-being of her own flesh and blood is truly chilling.
On December 11, FDLE agents executed a search warrant at Stephens’ residence, unearthing a horrifying cache of illegal substances. Inside her home, they discovered a staggering 153 grams of fentanyl, 100 fentanyl pills, and even marijuana. But that’s not all. The agents also stumbled upon 63 individual packages cunningly disguised as innocent candy, chips, and cereal. It was a chilling revelation that Stephens had earned the notorious moniker of the “candy lady” for selling drug-infused candy to unsuspecting children in the neighborhood.
As the investigation unfolded, it became clear that Stephens’ husband, Vincent Stephens, played a significant role in facilitating her illicit deals. Currently behind bars on drug-related charges, Vincent has now been charged with conspiracy to traffic and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Renee Stephens was swiftly apprehended and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on December 13. She now faces a litany of charges, including 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. Her bond has been set at a staggering $92,000.
The FDLE’s relentless pursuit of justice has successfully dismantled a dangerous drug operation, potentially saving countless lives from the clutches of addiction and despair. The arrest of Renee Stephens, the notorious “candy lady,” sends a clear message that those who prey on our most vulnerable, especially children, will face the full force of the law.
As the investigation continues, authorities are urging anyone with additional information to come forward.