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Trial for accused drug dealer in large scale Fentanyl bust starts Monday

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The trial for a man responsible for selling millions of dollars worth of Fentanyl laced drugs all across the U.S. started Monday.

In the complaint filed in Utah’s Federal Court in November 2016, detectives with the Drug Enforcement Administration Metropolitan Narcotics Task Force served a search warrant on the Cottonwood Heights home of Aaron Michael Shamo on November 22.

Inside the home, they found approximately 70,000 pills that have the appearance of Oxycodone and 25,000 pills that had the appearance of Alprazolam.

They also located a pill press and powder Fentanyl.

“We’re dealing with substances here that are deadly to the touch,” DEA Special Agent Brian Besser said. “They can be quickly absorbed into the skin and people die from it oft times, almost immediately…powdered Fentanyl again extremely potent, extremely dangerous, extremely deadly, that powder form is laying all over the place.”

Detectives are also asking for forfeiture of over $6 million in cash, proceeds from a 2011 Ford F-350 pickup, a 2008 BMW 135i, an industrial large pill press and associated pill dyes as well as four 100-ounce silver bars.

Special Agent Besser said pill counterfeiters typically buy Fentanyl from China via the so-called “dark web”. 

“A person can take a moderate investment of $3500 to $4000 and buy one kilogram of pure Fentanyl online,” Besser explained. “One kilogram of pure Fentanyl will generate roughly in between 700,000 to a million counterfeit pills. That equates to roughly in between $6 to $22 million in profit from a $4000 investment.”

Detectives also seized multiple packages mailed to several accomplices that Shamo had the Fentanyl shipped to their homes from China.

Police additionally charged several other individuals in relation to this case: Drew Wilson Crandall, Alexandrya Marie Tonge, Katherine Lauren Anne Bustin, Mario Anthony Noble and Sean Micheal Gygi.

Shamo is facing multiple counts including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, aiding and abetting the importation of Fentanyl and Alaprzolam, possession of Fentanyl with the intent to distribute, distribution of Fentanyl that resulted in death, manufacture of Alprozolam, adulteration of drugs, us of U.S. Mail in furtherance of drug trafficking, and money laundering.

“It’s safe to say that this individual is responsible for hundreds of thousands, more likely millions of counterfeit tablets going across the continental United States,” Besser said. “These counterfeit pills have Fentanyl being put into them and there is no control mechanism, there is no regulation method. So one person may get a pill out of a counterfeit batch and take it and use it. The second person may take the pill and die almost immediately…It would be very safe to say that people have died from this operation.”

Documents indicated the distribution of the pills resulted in the death of an individual on June 13, 2016.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

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