Salt Lake City – When America's opioid crisis spilled over into a fentanyl epidemic, prosecutors said a young man from Utah had created a drug-cracker by making and faking fake prescription painkillers with the deadly drug Home to the United States
Former Eagle Scout, Aaron Shamo, 29, will face trial Monday as he and a small group of other millennials have led a million-dollar empire from the basement of his Salt Lake City suburb and hundreds of thousands People have traded pillsthe potent synthetic opioid that has exacerbated the country's overdose epidemic in recent years.
The federal government's case is intended to give some insight on how the drug that killedcan be imported from China, pressed into fake pills and sold via online black markets to people in all states ,
Prosecutor's Office h It is believed that dozens of the ring's customers were killed in overdoses, although the defense denies this and Shamo is charged only in connection with one identified as a 21
Shamo's family, however, said he was singled out, even though deeply involved friends offered milder plea bargains. His father, Mike Shamo, said his son was a chess fanatic as a child who had experimented with marijuana in his teens, but later earned his Eagle Scout badge for crocheting blankets for a hospital.
Aaron Shamo became an Internet-savvy aspiring entrepreneur and health-conscious workout fan who loved self-improvement books like "The Secret" and dreamed of setting up his own technical support business, Mike Shamo told The Associated Press.
"He was brought in and saw the opportunity for money, and he did not really understand the danger behind what he did, how dangerous the drugs were," he said. "I think he was able to separate what he did because he never saw the customer, for him it was just numbers on a screen." The largest in the country.
In a raid on his home in the upscale suburb of Cottonwood Heights, agents found a pending tablet press in the basement, thousands of pills, and more than $ 1 million in cash in garbage bags of documents.
The group started two years earlier and grew to more than a dozen people, some of whom met Aaron Shamo in an eBay call center, as court papers claim. The prosecution said it had started a partnership between Aaron Shamo and Drew Crandall, a shy friend he was into skateboarding and tips for talking to girls. The pair eventually began importing steroids and reselling them to sports fans, and the operation grew from there to court records.
Another man, Jonathan "Luke" Paz, also pleaded guilty to developing the recipe and pressing the Fentanyl- After Crandall had taken a longer trip abroad, the lawyers of Crandall and Paz did not respond immediately to requests for comments , Aaron Shamo ordered the Fentanyl from China and paid a number of people to get it home and, according to the authorities, hand it over to him. He and Paz reportedly sliced the powder, added other fillers and pressed it into tablets. According to the prosecution, dyes and stamps have been used to mimic the appearance of legitimate medicines. Especially dangerous: They cut and mix fentanyl – some of which can kill feces – without sophisticated equipment, which means that in a single batch, a fake pill may be low Contains fentanyl and another contains so much that it kills immediately.
Disguised poison, "prosecutor Michael Gadd said at a hearing," If you think for a moment about what kind of people are abusing prescription oxycodone, it's your neighbor, it's my neighbor. These are people who have undergone knee surgery and become addicted. "
The pills were sold online through a dark web marketplace called the Pharma Master The Dark Web is a second level of the Internet that a special browser accesses and which is often used for illegal activities, but contains sites with user-friendly interfaces and customer reviews similar to those found on platforms such as Amazon and eBay.
Pharma-Master is said to have grown into one of the most well-known Darknet merchants […] Orders were processed.
When orders came in, packers counted the pills, sealed them with a vacuum sealer, and put them in envelopes or boxes directed at US homes, prosecutors said, packing pills in mylar pouches to hold the pills To mask content, wrote wrong sender addresses like "Jamaica Green Coffee" and added even false invoices. The parcels were deposited in mailboxes across the Salt Lake area to hide from the police.
Some were small orders from people who bought for themselves, but in other cases, the group sent thousands of pills in bulk to gang members and drug traffickers, who then resold them on the street, prosecutors say.
Each pill cost less than a penny and could be sold as a legitimate medicine for $ 20 or more on the street, prosecutors said.
In June 2016, US Customs officials seized a package of Fentanyl directed at someone who got it for Aaron Shamo and dissolved it after court records.
Five months later, investigators had found an incoming broadcast from a Chinese company called Express, which is also under investigation. They also collected outbound mail: a single day included 35,000 fentanyl pills in 52 parcels sent to households in 26 states, prosecutors said. One box alone, according to court records, had an estimated wholesale value of more than $ 400,000.
Aaron Shamo's home was also ransacked in late 2016, and Crandall was arrested in Hawaii the following spring when he returned from traveling around the world. Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia marry his girlfriend.
In the years since his arrest, Aaron Shamo has become a lawyer for other prison inmates and has launched a letter campaign in which local churches are invited to write to the people behind bars to give them hope of life after imprisonment his father Mike Shamo said. He has also written to the governor and called for further rehabilitation programs for prison inmates.
In the meantime, Paz and Crandall have already filed an opposition and could testify against their former friend, along with a possible parade of other suspected co-conspirators.
His family will also pursue the trial.
"We only want justice, we want equality for all, so those who were equally guilty are held accountable for their actions," said Mike Shamo.