SALT LAKE CITY — At least one more person could face charges in what authorities call a multimillion-dollar opioid-drug ring based out of a suburban Salt Lake City basement, prosecutors said Thursday.
New charges could be filed in the coming weeks, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gadd said during a hearing. Authorities are also still investigating whether any overdose deaths are connected to drugs sold online, he said.
Aaron Shamo, 27, and five others are charged with selling fake prescription-drug pills on the dark web — an area of the internet often used for illegal activity — to thousands of people all over the country, at one point raking in $2.8 million in less than a year.
Federal prosecutors say the drugs were really fentanyl, the powerful opioid blamed for the death of entertainer Prince. He faces a possible mandatory life prison sentence if convicted on one of the charges, knowingly engaging in a criminal enterprise.
Defense attorney Greg Skordas has said that Shamo was “dumb kid,” not an experienced criminal.
The case is expected back in court Dec. 1.
Agents seized nearly 500,000 pills from Shamo’s home in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, in November, court documents state. Prosecutors say the agents found guns and more than $1 million in cash stuffed in garbage bags, as well as pills made to look like Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and the painkiller Oxycodone.
Alleged partner Drew W. Crandall, 30, has pleaded not guilty to three counts following his arrest in Hawaii, where authorities say he planned to marry his girlfriend after a globe-trotting trip. The other four defendants are charged with helping package the drugs and send them to customers, often through the U.S. Postal Service.
This version of the story corrects the number of people charged in the case to six.