The Justice Department said U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball sentenced a Utah man to life in prison for heading an organization that distributed more than 500,000 counterfeit pills nationwide.
Authorities said the sentence was handed down to Aaron Michael Shamo, 30, indicating he was the CEO of a nationwide dark net drug trafficking organization.
Following an August 2019 trial, a federal jury found Shamo guilty of organizing and directing an organization importing fentanyl and alprazolam from China and using the drugs to manufacture fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl and counterfeit Xanax tablets.
“Aaron Shamo knew the nation was on fire with opioids, and he poured fuel on the flames, over and over and over, never getting burned himself, but causing pain and misery wherever his fire spread,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Vernon Stejskal said in closing arguments during the trial. “Aaron Shamo could be considered the face of the opioid epidemic. He was a profiteer, callously making millions of dollars and living a life of leisure while exploiting those suffering through opioid addiction.”
The jury determined Shamo engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, and he was convicted on three counts of aiding and abetting the importation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, manufacture of a controlled substance, and two counts of knowing and intentional adulteration of drugs while held for sale, per authorities.