SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man charged with running a multimillion-dollar opioid drug ring out of a suburban Salt Lake City basement pleaded not guilty Thursday in a case that authorities say ranks among the largest busts of its kind in the country.
Aaron Shamo, 27, is charged with a dozen criminal counts. He faces a possible mandatory life prison sentence if convicted on one of them, knowingly engaging in a criminal enterprise.
Shamo and a partner are accused of selling fake prescription-drug pills online on the dark web — an area of the internet often used for illegal activity — to thousands of people across the U.S., at one point raking in $2.8 million in less than a year.
Agents seized nearly 500,000 pills from Shamo’s home in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, in November, court documents state. Prosecutors say the agents found guns and more than $1 million in cash stuffed in garbage bags, as well as pills made to look like Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and the painkiller Oxycodone.
Federal prosecutors say the pills were really fentanyl, the powerful opioid blamed for thousands of fatal overdoses, including the death of entertainer Prince. Agents are investigating possible overdose deaths connected to the drugs shipped from Utah, according to court documents.
Dozens of people were involved in the drug ring, and prosecutors expect to charge at least one more person, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gadd told a judge during a Thursday hearing.
Alleged partner Drew W. Crandall, 30, has pleaded not guilty to three counts following his…
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