The Partnership for Safe Medicines is watching multiple cases as they proceed through the court systems here in the U.S. Here is a quick update on two major counterfeiting cases, one in Texas and one in Utah.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, one of the 14 alleged members of a counterfeit drug ring that was broken up in August 2017 has signed a plea deal. Mohamed “Blake” Al Salihi admitted to running a stash house for Alaa Mohammed Allawi, the purported ringleader. The stash house operated by Al Salihi was used for the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit pills to college campuses as well as being sold on the streets of San Antonio.
Al Salihi’s factual summary states that between September 2015 and June 2017, the drug ring distributed almost 850,000 counterfeit pills. The fake pills included over 359,000 counterfeit oxycodone made with fentanyl, 342,000 counterfeit Adderall laced with methamphetamine, and 145,000 counterfeit Xanax. San Antonio Police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spent two years investigating the drug ring that started on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio. The ring is alleged to have purchased supplies and commercial pill presses from China. Al Salihi admitted to DEA agents his involvement in the operation, saying that Allawi paid him to stay at the stash house as well as giving him some money for operating it and for “keeping his mouth shut.” Once his formal plea is accepted, he faces ten years to life in prison.
The Deseret News reported that a jury trial date has been set for Aaron Shamo, the Utah resident charged with operating an international drug ring that sold counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl to customers across the United States. As previously reported on PSM, Shamo and his five co-conspirators were busted in November 2016 and the alleged ringleader will face the judgment of his peers at what is expected to be a four-week trial starting August 20, 2018. Although all evidence has been gathered, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gadd stated in court that the investigation is still ongoing. He has over 3 terabytes worth evidence and is working to only call 70 witnesses and need 500 pieces of evidence.
Another man charged in the case, Sean Michael Gygi, is reportedly negotiating with prosecutors for a plea deal. Details of the plea agreement were not openly discussed in court and it is unknown how that potential agreement could affect the cases against Shamo and the four other defendants.