Defendant Admits Guilt In Utah Counterfeit Drug Ring Case

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The Deseret News reported on an admission of guilt from one of the defendants charged with participating in an international drug ring allegedly run by Aaron Shamo. Mario Noble admitted in court to one count conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and one count conspiracy to distribute alprazolam. The five other original defendants in the case included Shamo, Drew Crandall, Alexandrya Tonge, Katherine Bustin, and Sean Gygi. Authorities charged Jonathan Luke Paz in May 2018 for his role in the conspiracy.

In documents filed in court, the federal government alleged that this group sold vast quantities of counterfeit drugs that they made themselves. In an eleven-month period that ran from December 2015 until authorities raided the operation in November 2016, 5,606 orders were shipped. Those orders totaled $2.8 million in sales. While searching Shamo’s Cottonwood Heights home, authorities found 70,000 pills and $1.2 million stuffed in garbage bags. The result of an investigation looking to tie at least 28 opioid-related deaths to the pills this group made is unknown.

In a statement made in advance of a plea agreement, Noble said that Shamo asked him to be the “backbone” of the online marketplace where the defendants sold the drugs they produced. Noble was to handle all customer service requests and process orders. This included sending an encrypted email that listed the orders to the people responsible for packaging and mailing them out. Noble admitted to processing thousands of orders counterfeit pain pills made with fentanyl and the fake alprazolam tablets.

Although technically only agreeing to plead guilty to the conspiracy having involved at least 400 grams of fentanyl, Noble says he processed orders for “much more than four hundred grams of Fentanyl.” Shamo’s trial date has been set for August 20, 2018 and is expected to take four weeks. At least one other defendant, Sean Gygi, had been discussing a possible plea deal earlier this year. It is unknown if or when one will be reached.