Sunday, October 29, 2023

Aaron Shamo = Life - revisited

This appeared in 2020.

Suburban millennial Aaron Shamo was convicted of being a drug kingpin and was sent to prison for life.
Mormon college dropout Aaron Shamo, 29, made himself a millionaire by building a fentanyl trafficking empire in his spare time with little more than his computer. Shamo called himself a 'white-collar drug dealer' who was helping people get the drugs they needed. His attorney called him a fool and his primary defence was that he isn’t smart enough to be a drug kingpin. Shamo flooded the US with half a million fake oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl.
On the stand at trial Shamo rambled about how customers wrote thank you notes because doctors refused to prescribe painkillers. He said it was “a win-win situation” — he got rich and his customers got drugs. Ruslan Klyuev died in his bedroom with an envelope from Shamo at his feet. Shamo was charged in connection to that overdose death, but when investigators scoured his list of customers they said dozens more were also dead. His was the only death with which Shamo would be charged.
The DEA estimates a kilogram of fentanyl purchased for a few thousand dollars from China could make a dealer more than $1 million. “Any moron can basically become a major drug kingpin by dealing in fentanyl.” Shamo's business boomed. He hired a personal assistant. He stuffed a duffel bag with $429k cash and asked his parents to hold it. He bragged to friends about gambling in Las Vegas. He shopped for real estate in Puerto Rico; sipped champagne on a cruise ship; bought designer clothes, a boat and expensive cars.
Shamo penned a note: “I am Shamo. I am awesome. My friends love me. I created an empire.”
On Nov. 22, 2016 Federal agents raided Shamo’s home. They found more than $1.2m in cash. They seized another $800k from one of his associates. Shamo’s other ex-partners and packagers pleaded guilty and agreed to testify. Aaron Shamo was convicted of 12 counts including the 'kingpin charge' that is usually reserved for drug lords like El Chapo. It carries a mandatory life sentence. The jury deadlocked on the death of Ruslan Klyuev.