Aaron Shamo is facing 13 counts of controlling multi-million dark web drug crime ring that allegedly resulted in two overdose death and other drug crime charges. On 29 August 2019, he appeared before the Federal Courthouse in continuation of his trial for the dark web-related drug crime. During the court session, U.S. prosecutor Vernon Stejskal accused Shamo of being a master manipulator. According to a report, Stejskal stated that Shamo knew the buttons to push in order to manipulate people to continue working for his drug organization to “keep making more money, more money, more money”.
In response to the statement, the defense attorney Greg Skordas stated that Shamo is not a kingpin as it is alleged. According to him, Shamo ended up taking the blame because he wanted to make friends. The defense attorney further said Shamo is just a dummy. Shamo was reported to have said that he was merely helping people who were in need of drugs. He just used the situation to make some money for himself and his friends. After listening to the submissions of the defendant and the prosecutor, the jury went on a 90-minute deliberation. However, no verdict was reached.
This case has been a complicated one right from the time the drug crime organization was cracked down and suspects arrested. It was reported that Ruslan Klyuev 21, died after coming into contact with fentanyl distributed by Shamo’s drug crime organization as oxycodone. According to the medical toxicologist, Klyuev was basically killed by the fentanyl that made its way into his system. Despite the medical finding, the defense attorney insisted that the young man died out of the mixture of substances such as alcohol and cocaine in his system.
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He also stated that the defendant was a naive college drop-out who bought drug-making equipment in his name. This was in defense of the equipment confiscated at Shamo’s basement during an execution of a search warrant.
On the authority of a report published by the U.S. Justice Department, Shamo controlled an international drug crime organization that constantly imported fentanyl and alprazolam from China. According to the report, he and other co-conspirators used imported drugs to manufacture fake oxycodone pills. Also, they bought a pill press to mark pills in order to present them as legitimate pharmaceutical drugs. They then set up a store on the Alphabay market called “PHARMA-MASTER” and distributed controlled substances throughout the country using the U.S. Mail. Alphabay market was taken down in a few months later.
Investigation revealed that Shamo and another friend called Drew Crandall started this illegal drug organization, but with time, they involved a number of people as the drug crime enterprise became larger. Shamo also paid people to receive imported drugs shipped from China, before making a subsequent delivery to his residence.
According to the report, Jonathan “Luke” Paz assisted Shamo to press fentanyl-laced pills in the absence of Crandall. The dark web drug crime business grew to a point where they were processing about 20 to 50 orders in a day.
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Their arrest came when authorities confiscated a package addressed to one of his usual recipients. It was discovered that the package contained fentanyl shipped from China. In November 2016, authorities executed a search warrant and discovered about 70,000 pills that appeared as oxycodone in his residence. Not just that, a total of 25,000 pills that appeared as alprazolam was also discovered. The U.S. Justice Department also stated that the drug organization managed by Shamo made a worldwide distribution of about 800,000 pills.
The international drug organization was recognized as one of the largest drug organizations the authorities have ever shut down. Shamo faces a mandatory life sentence if he is found guilty of the continuing criminal enterprise charge. He also faces from 5 years to 40 years in prison if found guilty of many other dark web-related drug crime charges leveled against him.
In an interview with Mike Shamo, Shamo’s father, he said his son has always aspired to start his tech support business. He stated that Shamo was ignorant of the dangers that were related to his operation as he just thought he had found an opportunity of making money. He said his son was able to separate what he was doing because he could not see the customers apart from the numbers on the screen.
The U.S. law enforcement agency and other agencies have partnered to launch a full-scale attack on the perpetrators behind the high influx of illegal drugs into the country. As part of the measures, investigators have gone undercover on the dark web to uncover all illegal operations and subject all drug criminals under the authority of the law.
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