SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH | BY LINDSAY WHITEHURST, (AP) — The Utah man once at the center of a multimillion-dollar opioid ring is set to be sentenced on Thursday.
Aaron Shamo, 30, was convicted of shipping fake prescription drugs all over the country from his home in suburban Salt Lake City during the nation’s opioid epidemic.
He was found guilty of a dozen counts in August 2019, including one for running a criminal enterprise that carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The case was a glimpse at how fentanyl, a drug that authorities say can be deadly with just a few flakes, can be imported from China, pressed into fake pills and sold through online black markets to people in every state. The 2016 bust at Shamo’s home ranked among the largest in the country at the time.
Authorities have said the pills were linked to multiple deaths, though the jury deadlocked on the only charges filed in an overdose, that of a 21-year-old California man.
Defense lawyers acknowledged that Shamo, an Eagle Scout who grew up in a family that belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was selling drugs. But they also argue a life sentence is too harsh since the operation involved other people expected to get lighter sentences after striking plea deals and testifying against him.