TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Clearwater man who dumped a woman’s body at the Howard Frankland Bridge was sentenced to 25 years Tuesday for drug charges and obstruction of justice, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
A DOJ release said Sherman Michael Puckett, 34, was part of a drug ring that distributed 255 grams of fentanyl, over 37 grams of fentanyl analogues, over 28 grams of cocaine, over 17 grams of methamphetamine, and other drugs.
Evidence showed that Puckett worked as a drug distributor from July 23, 2018, to Sept. 17, 2019, using hotel rooms and short-stay rentals to sell and store his drugs. He would move from location to location ever few weeks or days to avoid law enforcement, according to authorities.
The DOJ said during Puckett’s time as a drug dealer, he would mix fentanyl and heroin together, which he would sell to consumers while telling them it was only heroin.
“As a result of not knowing the contents of what they were ingesting, Puckett’s customers sometimes accidentally overdosed,” the release said “Puckett was responsible for an unknown number of non-fatal overdoses, which he regarded as an acceptable cost of his business model.”
Those who survived their overdoses would become fentanyl addicts and continue using Puckett as their source. The DOJ said Puckett told a witness that “if [the customers] can survive the high, I will always have a paycheck.”
However, not all of the drug users survived their overdoses.
According to the DOJ, Puckett trafficked women who were given drugs and money to keep them loyal. One of these women, identified as “S.C.” by the release, died of an overdose in Puckett’s hotel room.
Instead of reporting the woman’s death, Puckett stripped her naked, wrapped her body in plastic, and dumped it at the base of the St. Petersburg side of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
She was found the next morning by a local fisherman.
Puckett pleaded guilty to his crimes on March 14, 2022. He was sentenced for conspiring to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, 10 grams or more of fentanyl analogues, 5 grams or more of methamphetamine, and heroin; and obstructing of justice.