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Fisherman Who Hauled Cocaine Out of Illegal Fishing Grounds Faces Life in Prison

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Fisherman Thomas Zachary Breeding tried his hand at drug kingpin, and faces life. A commercial fisherman in Florida hauled in an unusual catch last summer, and is warning others to learn a lesson from what he did next.

    Thomas Zachary Breeding, 32, found a bale of cocaine while trawling the Gulf of Mexico last summer, and is facing life in prison after pleading guilty to setting up a distribution network to sell the drugs.

    It was early last year when Breeding, captaining a long line fishing boat out of Panama City, stumbled upon the illicit trove on the high seas. At the time, Breeding was fresh off a stint in federal prison for steering his boat, The Wolf, into protected breeding grounds of the gag grouper, and then lying to investigators about it, records show.

    Breeding was sailing about 50 miles south of Panama City, not far from the same protected waters, when he discovered the drugs floating in the open water. The risk-taking captain hauled his cocaine catch aboard and returned to harbor with profit on the mind.

    A commercial fisherman in Florida hauled in an unusual catch last summer, and is warning others to learn a lesson from what he did next. Thomas Zachary Breeding, 32, found a bale of cocaine while trawling the Gulf of Mexico last summer, and is facing life in prison after pleading guilty to setting up a distribution network to sell the drugs.

    "I would like to let the public know the dangers and what not to do if this situation comes about," Breeding recently wrote in an apologetic letter to The News Herald.

    It was early last year when Breeding, captaining a long line fishing boat out of Panama City, stumbled upon the illicit trove on the high seas. At the time, Breeding was fresh off a stint in federal prison for steering his boat, The Wolf, into protected breeding grounds of the gag grouper, and then lying to investigators about it, records show.

    A general view of the waters off Panama City, where fisherman-turned-dealer Breeding harbored his long-line fishing boat. Breeding found 20 kilos of cocaine while fishing.

    Breeding had previously served federal prison time for fishing in the protected gab grouper breeding ground known as 'The Edges,' marked in dark grey. He found the cocaine about 50 miles south of Panama City, which would place the haul not far from the protected zone

    "I was just a hard-working, young commercial fisherman," Breeding explained in his letter. "I do not know where the drugs came from and haven't ever been involved in the drug trade before."

    Drug traffickers have been known to leave floating bales in prearranged locations for offshore pickup, as well as dumping drugs overboard while under pursuit. But rather than contacting the authorities, Breeding assembled a network of four distributors, parceling out the massive haul to them on credit and then taking reimbursements from them as they sold off the stash.

    The would-be kingpin's scheme unraveled just months later, in June of 2016.

    It's not clear how federal investigators were tipped off, but all five conspirators were arrested that summer.

    Breeding four co-conspirators were Richard Kenneth Helms Jr., Jessica Renee Ashbaker, Jeremy Patrick Hubbard, and Benjamin Bailey Mcgraw. They were indicted in September, and all five pleaded guilty and are set for sentencing on Feb. 16.

    Breeding, who has prior state convictions for marijuana, theft and credit card fraud, is also charged as a felon who was transporting a firearm. He faces life in prison, and could be fined up to $4.25 million. On top of it all, somewhere there may be a very angry drug trafficker who finally knows what happened to his stash.

    Breeding's co-conspirators Richard Kenneth Helms Jr. and Jessica Renee Ashbaker got cocaine on credit and reimbursed Breeding after selling it, according to guilty pleas.



    Mogan News/Jan. 27, 2017
    http://en.mogaznews.com/World-News/350902.html
    Photos, map: Bay County Sheriff
    Newshawk Crew

    About Author

    Beenthere2Hippie
    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.

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