Who is Aaron Shamo? 29-year-old 'Millennial Mastermind' who made millions selling drugs gets life in prison
A former Eagle Scout from Utah was notoriously involved in making fentanyl-laced painkillers in his basement and selling the lethal pills leading to deaths
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, UTAH: A former Eagle Scout has been convicted of running a counterfeit opioid operation that earned him millions of dollars but left dozens of people dead. Aaron Shamo,29, from Utah was notoriously involved in making fentanyl-laced painkillers in his basement and selling the lethal pills leading to deaths. He was under a trial for his alleged drug ring which started in 2019 that finally found him guilty on October 15.
Prosecutors reportedly stated that Shamo used to make counterfeit Oxycodone pills that were so dangerous that the federal drug officials needed hazmat suits and scuba tanks to go inside his Cottonwood Heights home during a raid that they conducted in November 2016. His drugs were shipped all across the world and are suspected of causing the overdose deaths of dozens of unsuspecting customers, several media reports indicate.
ABC 4 reported that on the first day of his trial that began in August 2019, his mother Becky Shamo told that her son was being unfairly prosecuted. “He’s done some bad things. We will admit to that. He’s done some bad things,” Becky Shamo said. “He does not deserve to spend his life in prison and that’s all they’ve ever wanted from day one…He’s a good kid. He’s only 29. He deserves a chance at life.”
In his October 15 sentencing, many people accused him of killing their acquaintances. Tova Keblish, mother of victim Gavin Keblish, 23, who overdosed on Shamo’s products accused Aaron Shamo of “Shipping counterfeit death pills. You shipped thousands of people their death sentence. You were making your own homemade instant death pill…You denied my son the right to live.”
During his sentencing, Shamo, 29, stated in the court: “I’m deeply sorry and regret the decisions that I made. I made a fool of myself and brought embarrassment to my family that I will never be able to wash away. Now I’m going to prison and I don’t think I will ever get out… I feel terrible for everything and I’m paying the ultimate price for it.”
As per ABC 4, Shamo has been charged with 13 counts. This includes running a continuing criminal firm which carries a mandatory life sentence. Aaron Shamo is scheduled to return to the courtroom for a restitution hearing on November 19th. Utah Attorney General tweeted on October 15, "Aaron Shamo, previously convicted for organizing and directing a multi-million dollar drug trafficking organization out of his home in Utah, was sentenced to life in prison this morning. Read AG Reyes' statement below."
Aaron Shamo, previously convicted for organizing and directing a multi-million dollar drug trafficking organization out of his home in Utah, was sentenced to life in prison this morning. Read AG Reyes' statement below. #utpol pic.twitter.com/z8YsRENi4R— Utah Attorney General (@UtahAG) October 15, 2020
After his being found guilty in a drug ring, here is a closer look at the convict.
Who is Aaron Shamo?
Aaron Shamo was just like any other millennial who grew up in a family that belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah. However, he embarked on a criminal journey by setting up a drug operation that started small with text messages and smiley-face emojis sent to friends from his job at eBay but quickly grew out of control as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.
The site reported that Shamo called himself a “white-collar drug dealer” and boosted himself up with messages like “I am awesome” as he broadened and developed his criminal operation. He reportedly sold his lethal products through a storefront called Pharma-Master on the dark web. For the unversed, the dark web is a wild, unregulated layer of the internet that can be reached via a special browser.
Shamo soon became the mastermind of a drug racket that employed as many as 20 people who made powerful painkillers. The former Utah Valley University student ran an operation to import cheap fentanyl from China, turning this into fake Oxy and selling it surreptitiously.
Further, Shamo did extensive research on fentanyl, pill presses, punches and dyes, ingredients, and how his products could be sold on the darknet. He also researched how to make and ship drugs, and subjects like money laundering, Deseret News reported. The site reported that in November 2016, after conducting surveillance on Shamo for weeks, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and local police raided his Cottonwood Heights. They seized $1.2 million in cash from a sock drawer and he had another $429,000 stored at his parents’ house at that time. Officials also seized 513 bitcoins from Shamo’s online wallet, valued at an estimated $2.4 million.
The 2016 raid at Aaron Shamo’s home is ranked amongst the largest in the United States, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Now, that Shamo has been found guilty of running the drug ring his lawyer Greg Skordas called the mandatory life sentence served to him as “Draconian.” He said as reported in ABC 4, “They decided that he needed to spend the rest of his life in prison.” He added, “It’s unfortunate. I think it’s unfair but it’s certainly consistent with the law.”