Authorities have linked fentanyl overdose deaths to a Cottonwood Heights man accused of running a global pill making illegal operation at his home.
According to court documents filed on Thursday, Aaron Shamo knowingly and intentionally distributed an illegal substance on the dark web containing fentanyl, which resulted in the overdose deaths on June 13, 2016.
The investigating agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration earlier said they have evidence connecting the suspect to a drug ring linked to over 28 fentanyl overdose deaths. This is after one of Shamo’s co-defendants who had been arrested earlier admitted in court to taking part in the illegal dark web drug operation.
Shamo is facing multiple counts of conducting an international, illegal and criminal business enterprise involving manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of controlled substances over the dark web. He is also charged with money laundering in virtual currencies and drug trafficking.
The Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force in an undercover drug operation which they referred to as “absolutely catastrophic,” discovered several hundred thousand illegal fentanyl pills in Shamo’s residence at Cottonwood Heights.
According to federal prosecutors, Shamo is a leader of the international and illegal dark web drug dealing organization that imported powdered alprazolam and fentanyl from China. These imports were used to manufacture fake Xanax pills and oxycodone tablets among other substances. The drugs were then advertised and sold on the dark web marketplaces to thousands of people in the country making over $2.8 million in less than eight months.
In November 2016 during an investigation, DEA agents obtained a search warrant which on execution seized guns, over 70,000 pills that resembled oxycodone, over 25,000 pills that looked like alprazolam and over $1 million in cash in Shamo’s house, wrapped in garbage bags. According to the filed court records, the drug cartel sold over 800,000 illegal pills.
Drew Crandall, who had also been arrested after an investigation linked him to the drug ring pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering.
Crandall admitted to possession and conspiracy to distribute alprazolam and fentanyl in the illegal organization. He left the organization after a dispute but kept in touch with his boss Shamo, who later gave him a job to provide online customer care and support on Alphabay for Shamo’s vendor until his arrest. He also testified that Shamo, his boss, sold and imported drugs over the dark web using cryptocurrencies.
Three other members of the same drug organization pleaded guilty in June this year for possession, distribution, packaging and mailing hundreds of orders for illegal drugs.
Alexandria Tonge Marie, 26, Sean Gygi Michael, 28 and Katherine Anne Bustin Lauren, 28, admitted to their charges in connection to the Cottonwood Height drug ring and are awaiting sentencing.
Both Shamo and Crandall face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life imprisonment on conviction for possession and distribution of alprazolam and fentanyl which lead to overdose deaths. They also face an additional sentence of up to 20-years prison term for money laundering.