Powell woman caught with 10,000 fentanyl pills receives five-year sentence

Posted 10/3/23

A Powell woman who was caught with over a half-million dollars worth of fentanyl and meth last spring has received a five-year prison sentence.

Victoria A. Zupko was sentenced last week in …

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Powell woman caught with 10,000 fentanyl pills receives five-year sentence


A Powell woman who was caught with over a half-million dollars worth of fentanyl and meth last spring has received a five-year prison sentence.

Victoria A. Zupko was sentenced last week in Wyoming’s U.S. District Court in Cheyenne for a felony count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and meth. She pleaded guilty as part of a deal with federal prosecutors that involved the dismissal of a second charge of possessing the drugs with intent to deliver.

Zupko’s prison time will be followed by three years of supervised release.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne said the sentence from District Court Judge Alan Johnson was “in line with what was requested by the government.”

Zupko’s defense attorney, Sam Krone of Cody, said he presented several pieces of mitigating evidence, which included Zupko’s traumatic past, her immediate acceptance of responsibility for her actions and her desire to move forward and use her experience to help others. Overall, Krone said, “it was really a hopeful sentencing.”


The arrest

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested Zupko in March after she tried to have roughly 10,000 fentanyl pills and a pound of meth shipped to her Powell home. When officers entered the house that Zupko shared with her partner and three children, they found pills in multiple locations, including some in her pockets and others within the reach of her children.

Dealing the drugs was reportedly a profitable venture: Authorities said Zupko was paying not much more than $1 per pill and selling them for $60. All told, “she had made over $100,000 the previous year selling fentanyl pills,” U.S. Postal Inspector R.J. Fergon recounted in an affidavit.

Zupko told the agents she’d received 10,000-12,000 pills and a pound of meth in prior shipments, though she said those had been distributed by someone else. She indicated that March’s 10,000-pill shipment was supposed to be shared with others, with her share in the range of 2,000 to 2,500 pills.

Her arrest stemmed from a months-long, multi-county investigation by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, court records say. Zupko had been monitored since at least November 2022, when DCI agents concluded that she was receiving illegal narcotics through the mail and dealing them and others from her home on Springhill Road.

In March, U.S. postal inspectors intercepted a package headed to Zupko’s home from Phoenix. After a Casper Police Department K-9 alerted to the scent of narcotics, inspectors obtained a warrant to search the package, and they found 1,068 grams of fentanyl pills and 462 grams of meth inside. Given current prices, the street value of the drugs could have approached $700,000.

Fergon went undercover to deliver the package on March 21, with the illicit drugs removed. When Zupko collected it several hours later, Fergon, DCI agents and Powell police officers moved in and arrested her.

At her initial court appearance in March, Zupko took the unusual step of expressing gratitude to her arresting officers, saying they “saved three kids’ lives.” Krone noted that his client “took accountability right away,” and said that was one factor taken into account by Judge Johnson.

Court records show that information seized from and provided by Zupko led to the arrest of two other Powell residents, Ashton Wollam and Makala Butz, who allegedly served as a backup source of fentanyl. Butz and Wollam were arrested in April after DCI found evidence that they had kept and used fentanyl around their toddler. Their cases remain pending.

Zupko was originally charged in state court with three counts of endangering children with fentanyl, but those counts were dropped so the federal government could take over the case.

The federal indictment, which was filed in May, says Zupko “did knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with other persons known and unknown to the grand jury” to distribute the fentanyl and meth. Whether other individuals have been or will be charged in connection with the scheme was not clear from court records.


Moving forward

Some of the information presented at last week’s sentencing hearing covered what Krone described as a “really difficult childhood.” Zupko’s father was sent to federal prison while she was young — also sentenced by Judge Johnson — and Krone said she was abused both as a child and in an earlier marriage. 

But beyond her past, Zupko spoke about her desire to undergo drug and alcohol treatment in prison and to assist women in similar circumstances.

“She wants to help other people that have been in her situation that have felt pretty hopeless,” Krone said.

During the hour-long hearing on Sept. 25, he said Judge Johnson acknowledged the young woman’s potential.

“I think that, obviously it’s a tough case to look at with that many pills, but really, in the end, it was pretty fair what she got,” Krone said.

After Zupko completes her 60-month prison sentence, she’ll begin the three years of supervised release and must complete parenting classes, mental health counseling and complete a vocational training or education program, among other conditions. 

“She’s got a long way to go,” Krone said.

He said Zupko researched federal facilities with strong treatment programs and Johnson agreed to recommend that she be placed at a minimum security prison camp in Alderson, West Virginia, or a facility in Marianna, Florida, that has a medium security prison and a minimum security camp.