The final stage of a case involving the multi-million dollar Utah-based opioid dark web drug ring came to a conclusion after a group of co-defendants persons were sentenced to prison.
The remaining eight co-accused persons in the case against Aaron Michael Shamo, who was sentenced to life in prison, have finally be sentenced following a series of court hearings that occurred in a Utah federal court.
The charges that were common to the co-defendants included the conspiracy to distribute the dangerous drug fentanyl, conspiracy to distribute alprazolam, possession of fentanyl for purposes of distribution, drug trafficking, and the conspiracy to commit drug trafficking.
The Operation at a Glance
According to details concerning the August 2019 trial of Shamo, the court learnt about the dark web drug ring’s involvement in the importation of fentanyl and alprazolam from China.
By using the a dark web storefront called “pharma-master”, Shamo supplied the controlled substances to individuals for drug distribution across all 50 states in the U.S. The authorities discovered that the distribution network depended on the U.S. mail service as well as the now-defunct AlphaBay, which had grown to become the largest darknet platform of its time.
Reportedly, Shamo used a dangerous “trial and error” procedure to manufacture the drugs he sold across the country. At the same time, his co-defendants in the dark web drug distribution case were instrumental in ensuring the packaging and shipping of the illicit products for their market.
Shamo is said to have sold 1 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit oxycodone pills to various buyers, some of whom died from drug overdose. While official figures indicate 90 deaths, the true scale of his harmful operation may never be measured.
Eight Co-Accused Persons Sentenced
The 33-year-old Jonathon Paz, from Florida, was handed a 60-month sentence for his role in helping the main suspect to run a dark web drug distribution business. Drew Wilson Crandall, aged 33, was sentenced to 54 months.
Alexandrya Marie Tonge, a 29-year-old from a city in Utah’s Salt Lake City, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for helping facilitate Shamo’s drug trafficking network. The 31-year-old Katherine Bustin is also set to serve a 36-month prison term.
In addition, Mario Anthony Noble, 32, will serve a 30-month sentence after admitting to the court that he was hired by Shamo to provide critical services an operator of his drug network’s dark web store. The platform was used to handle customer orders of various controlled drugs.
The 31-year-old Sean Michael Gygi from Midvale was given a 24-month prison sentence. According to his plea agreement, the defendant admitted to receiving drug shipments from China on behalf of Shamo. It turns out that he also served as a runner for his boss and retrieved drug packages from Tonge and Bustin for eventual delivery to customers.
The other co-accused person was Ana “Gabby” Noriega who will be spending 36 months behind bars for her role in the Shamo’s drug empire. According to official reports, Noriega served as Shamo’s Executive Assistant for a period of six months in 2016.
The co-defendant admitted to accusations concerning her involvement in the drug supply chain by obtaining supplied that would then be used to advance Shamo’s illicit operation. She admitted that she used money to buy items in full knowledge of the fact that they had been obtained from the sale of banned drugs.
Finally, 46-year-old Christopher Sean Kenny was sentenced to 120 months in prison for the conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and committing money laundering. Kenny served as a middleman by selling Shamo’s products to customers. He admitted that he earned about one dollar per pill for his service in distributing approximately 140,000 pills.