Members of Utah-based multi-million dollar opioid drug ring convicted

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The final legal chapter of a multi-million dollar online opioid drug network ended on Friday as a group of millennials who helped run the dark web operation based in the suburb of Salt Lake City were sentenced to prison.

Drew Crandall helped start the operation which ultimately resulted in tens of thousands of fake pills containing the deadly opioid fentanyl being shipped to people across the country in 2016. He cried as he struggled with it. his role in the operation that prosecutors have linked to multiple overdose deaths.

I just want to say I’m so sorry for everything I’ve done, ”said Crandall, now 35. “So many people have been affected by this. I have to pay my debt to society, and I have to take responsibility for my actions. “

He pleaded guilty to drug distribution and money laundering charges and was sentenced to 4.5 years in federal prison.

The punishment for him and the other defendants was far too light for Tova Keblish of New York, whose son died after buying from the dark web storefront called Pharma-Master. Her son Gavin was 23 and bought counterfeit oxycodone after having surgery.

“It makes me sick. It’s unfair,” she said. The defendants are “young enough to be able to go out and have a life”.

Crandall testified that the operation started small, when he needed money for student loans, so he let his roommate Aaron Shamo sell his Adderall prescription. Crandall said he scaled down his role before Shamo started selling fentanyl.

Authorities say the 2016 bust in Shamo’s suburban Salt Lake City home was one of the largest in the country at the time. More than a million dollars were found in his dresser, according to court documents.

Crandall agreed to a plea deal and testified against Shamo, who was convicted of 12 counts and life sentence.

Two women were also convicted this week who packed the drugs and at one point gathered shipments so large they sucked up pills on their floors. They each received three years in prison, while a “runner” hired to pick up dozens of packages a day and drop them off in the mail was sentenced to two years. Shamo’s gym friend who helped squeeze the pills turned five.

Prosecutor Vernon Stejskal said the sentences handed down by US District Judge Dale Kimball sent the message that anyone involved in a drug ring could face “serious consequences”.

Still, the result is hard to accept for mothers like Shaela Knighton of Salt Lake City, whose son was a manager of a dairy grocery store and helping raise a 2-year-old when he died after buying Pharma pills. Master.

“He had a bright future,” she said. “A family who loved him.

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