The trial for a former Eagle Scout accused of making millions of dollars in an online opioid distribution scheme faced a Utah jury on Monday. He is accused of importing fentanyl from China and then making knockoff oxycodone and Xanax pills.
Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah claim that dozens died from drugs manufactured and distributed by Aaron Shamo, a 29-year-old former Eagle Scout. He is also accused of shipping hundreds of thousands of pills and leading an online distribution network from the basement of his Salt Lake City area home, WOWT reported.
Using the dark web, Shamo began selling a half-million fentanyl-looking pills, prosecutors claimed as the trial began on Monday in Salt Lake City. Shamo used Bitcoin to sell his products through a website called Pharma-Master, the Deseret News reported. He allegedly imported fentanyl from China and used the powder to make counterfeit opioid pills. He allegedly raked in more than $2.8 million in less than a year.
Court records obtained by Breitbart Texas reveal that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Metropolitan Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant on Shamo’s residence in November 2016. At that time, the special agents located more than 70,000 pills that “have the appearance of oxycodone” and “25,000 pills that have the appearance of Alprazolam, a/k/a Xanax.”
Shamo reportedly hired several assistants to receive the shipments of fentanyl from China. These workers would receive the drugs at their respective homes and then transport them to Shamo, prosecutors stated.
Investigators intercepted several shipments over a few months containing fentanyl — at least 120 pounds in one package, the criminal complaint states. Based upon the investigation, “agents know that Shamo packages the pills into numerous smaller packages” and distributes them using USPS or other package delivery services.
During the November raid, investigators reportedly found a the pill press running in the basement of Shamo’s home, the Deseret News reported. They found three other presses and seized more than $1.2 million in cash.
In June 2016, prosecutors stated that a victim identified as “R.K.” and his roommate (G.L.) ordered fake oxycodone pills on AlphaBay — an alleged sub-distributor of Pharma-Master. The pills arrived a few days later and on June 12, R.K. crushed and snorted two of the pills in his room. Witnesses said he immediately exhibited effects from the drug before he fell asleep in his bed. G.L. then rolled him into a “recovery” position to keep him from suffocating in his own vomit. The next morning, G.L. found him cold and unresponsive. He died from opioid intoxication, the medical examiner stated.
Reporter Annie Knox tweeted from the trial that prosecutors described Shamo as the kingpin. Defense attorneys for Shamo downplayed that description during opening arguments.
The trial for a Utahn accused of making and selling fentanyl-laced pills from his basement in Cottonwood Heights has begun in Salt Lake City. Prosecutors say the operation led to a fatal overdose in 2016. Background: https://t.co/a9h0nIO5yk
— Annie Knox (@anniebknox) August 12, 2019
Pharma-Masters’ business volume grew to the point where they shipped 20 to 50 orders per day, prosecutors stated in court documents. Shamo’s organization also reportedly shipped the pills to gang members and drug dealers.
Two of his conspirators, Jonathan “Luke” Paz and Drew Crandall, pleaded guilty and are expected to testify in the trial which began in Salt Lake City on August 12.