Weeki Wachee Couple Sentenced For Conspiring To Sell New Opioid Variant

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington has sentenced Jacob Spinoza (50, Weeki Wachee) to nine years and Veronica Jo Barback (29, Weeki Wachee) to three years and four months in federal prison, respectively, for conspiring to distribute protonitazene and metonitazene. Spinoza and Barback were also ordered to forfeit several firearms and assorted ammunition traceable to the offense. Spinoza pleaded guilty on September 7, 2023, and Barback pleaded guilty on September 12, 2023.

According to court records, Spinoza and Barback conspired to distribute two chemicals in the nitazene class: protonitazene and metonitazene. These are chemicals intended to have similar effects on the body as fentanyl, with varying degrees of potency stronger than fentanyl. Spinoza obtained the chemicals from China and the packages were delivered to the Middle District of Florida. On October 7, 2022, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the residence the two shared and recovered trafficking amounts of protonitazene and metonitazene, as well as cash, digital scales, drug paraphernalia, firearms, and ammunition.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.

Originally published at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/weeki-wachee-couple-sentenced-conspiring-sell-new-opioid-variant

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