Aaron Shamo, a 29-year-old former Eagle Scout accused of masterminding a multimillion-dollar fake prescription drug ring out of his basement that prosecutors say resulted in at least one fatal overdose, went on trial in federal court on Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Prosecutors say Shamo, who was arrested in November 2016, earned millions by selling fake oxycodone pills laced with lethal fentanyl and other counterfeit pills through a dark-web marketplace known as “Pharma-Master.” Shamo is being charged in the death of one customer, an unidentified 21-year-old, died in 2016 after ingesting fentanyl disguised as oxycodone, but prosecutors say dozens of people died after taking the pills.
"Death, drugs and money. That's why we're here," prosecutor Michael Gadd said during his opening statement.
Shamo faces 13 criminal counts, including importation and manufacturing of a controlled substance, drug trafficking and money laundering, Deseret News reported. Six other co-defendants have reached plea deals with prosecutors.
Attorneys for Shamo said he was incapable of running the interstate, online drug ring described by prosecutors in part because he has a learning disability and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"The evidence will not establish that Aaron Shamo caused the death of another, or that he was the organizer, leader, mastermind of this organization," defense attorney Greg Skordas told jurors.
Authorities found a pill press, thousands of pills of more than $1 million in cash during a 2016 raid on Shamo’s house in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.