Troubled Waters: Fisherman Could Face Life In Prison For Distributing Cocaine He Found At Sea


A Panama City fisherman thought he made it big when he found 20 kilograms of cocaine last January (2016), but what seemed like easy money is now costing him jail time and a hefty fine.

Thomas Zachary Breeding, who was charged with conspiracy of distributing a controlled substance, is now regretting his decision to distribute the amount of cocaine he found. “This changed my life and way of thinking and also made me aware of some of the dangers that can be found off shore in the Gulf,” Breeding wrote in a letter to The New Herald from Washington County Jail. “I would like to let the public know the dangers and what not to do if this situation comes about.”

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Along with five other co-defendants, Breeding was arrested in the summer of 2016. They were all charged for distributing the controlled substance, which weighed in about 45 pounds. Reportedly, when Breeding found the drug package, he was 80 kilometers out at sea, south from Panama City.

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“I was working as a long line boat captain out of Panama City when I found a package containing 20 kilos of cocaine,” he added in the letter. “I do not know where the drugs came from and haven’t ever been involved in the drug trade before. I was just a hard-working, young commercial fisherman.”

Prior to this incident, however, Breeding was allegedly convicted of other crimes stemming from other drug and gun offenses. According to court documents, he found the cocaine in January of 2016, and supplied it to his co-defendants throughout June of the same year. Jessica Renee Ashbaker, Richard Kenneth Helms Jr., Jeremy Patrick Hubbard, and Benjamin Bailey McGraw will all be sentenced with Breeding on Feb. 16, according to The New Herald.

Breeding will also be charged with unlawfully carrying a fireman in conjunction with the incident. He can face up to life in prison, and a $4.25 million fine if found guilty. Further details for this story are still pending.