Industrial pill press

A federal grand jury handed down a second superseding indictment against a Utah man that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) contends was the leader of a drug ring that shipped hundreds of thousands of counterfeit pills, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The previous indictments against Aaron Shamo charged him with a total of 12 counts. The new one added a new count of aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death. A court document identified the deceased as R.K. and said that they died on June 13, 2016.

The DOJ summarized the case against Shamo in a press release issued that announced the newest charge. Shamo allegedly ran an international drug trafficking organization that imported fentanyl and alprazolam powders from China. Pill presses were used by members of the conspiracy to turn those powders into counterfeit oxycodone and Xanax pills which were sold online. Prosecutors allege that this drug ring, which operated from at least July 8, 2015 until November 22, 2016, distributed more than fake 800,000 pills.

Shamo’s five co-defendants have already agreed to plead guilty. The DOJ charged Jonathan Luke Paz in a separate case for his role in this drug conspiracy. The most recent plea came from Drew Crandall just the day before the new superseding indictment against Shamo came out. In his statement by defendant, Crandall admitted to importing controlled substances and distributing them. He stopped working for Shamo in November 2015 but returned to provide customer support to Shamo’s online vendor account in July 2016.

Prosecutors expect Shamo’s trial to last three weeks. It is currently scheduled to begin on January 22, 2019. If found guilty of just the Continuing Criminal Enterprise count, Shamo faces a mandatory life sentence. U.S. Postal Inspectors, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Metro Narcotics Task Force of Salt Lake City, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation are all working on this case.