LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB)–Overdoses in Bay County are on the rise. On Wednesday, Sheriff Tommy Ford and State Attorney Larry Basford held a news conference to address the uptick as well as the prosecution of a drug case.
Sidney Taylor will spend the next 14 years in prison after she was convicted of manslaughter after the drugs she gave a man caused him to overdose and die within minutes.
“This was one of the first cases in our circuit that we were able to bring to fruition from an overdose investigation to a charge and now a plea that results in significant prison time,” said Sheriff Ford.
Sheriff Ford and State Attorney Larry Basford say they hope this sends a message.
“Ingesting just a little bit of an illegal substance can sometimes be lethal,” Basford said.
This sentencing comes on the heels of an uptick in drug overdoses in Bay County.
“We have seen 55 drug overdoses in the month of February. 31 of those we believe involved heroin and fentanyl and 8 of those have been fatal,” Ford said.
Sheriff Ford says February’s numbers account for 15% of the total number of overdoses the agency responded to in 2020.
He says he met with a Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator months ago to discuss the drug epidemic.
“He indicated that during the pandemic, that there was quite a bit of product that was amassing on the southern border,” Ford said.
As restrictions lifted, they believe the drugs started flowing quickly into our communities. Ahead of spring break season, Ford says people must be careful.
“Many of these substances, even those they feel are not a deadly substance now, maybe laced with fentanyl,” Ford said.
The Sheriff’s Office says they’re working with local agencies to crack down and hopefully prevent the trend from continuing upwards.