Florida couple slapped with prison sentence after trying to sell potent copycat fentanyl ordered from China

A Florida couple was sentenced to prison after they conspired to sell a new opioid variant which has the same effects on the body as fentanyl, the Department of Justice said. 

Jacob Spinoza, 50, and Veronica Barback, 29, of Weeki Wachee, conspired to distribute protonitazene and metonitazene back in 2022.

Court records show that Spinoza obtained the two chemicals from China and the packages were delivered in the Middle District of Florida's jurisdiction. 

On October 7, 2022, a search warrant was executed at the couple's home where trafficking amounts of protonitazene and metonitazene, as well as cash, digital scales, drug paraphernalia, firearms, and ammunition, were found. 

The duo was ordered to forfeit several firearms and multiple ammunition traceable to their offense.

Spinoza was sentenced to nine years and Barback was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison. 

What is protonitazene and metonitazene?

Both protonitazene and etonitazene are scheduled I controlled substances belonging to the class of niazenes. These are synthetic opioids that pose a high risk of abuse and can negatively addict communities and users. 

None of these substances are approved for medical use anywhere in the world. These chemicals have varying degrees of potency and are stronger than fentanyl.