Suspect in large Utah-based drug operation indicted

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Mug shot: Aaron Shamo, 26.

SALT LAKE CITY — The suspect in the biggest criminal pill press operation in Utah history has been indicted.

A grand jury has formally charged Aaron Michael Shamo with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, a felony.

A notice of intention to seek criminal forfeiture was also filed, meaning the government seeks to seize property believed to be used in or paid for by the drug operation. The assets include, but are not limited to, a 2008 BMW 135i, a 2011 Ford F-350 pickup and over $1.2 million in cash.

Shamo was arrested after a months-long investigation led to a November 22 raid carried out by DEA agents and law enforcement officials at the Cottonwood Heights home he had been renting and another home in West Jordan.

DEA officials said they uncovered hundreds of thousands of counterfeit opioids in the investigation.

“This is absolutely catastrophic, this adds to the opioid epidemic,” said DEA agent Brian Besser in an interview last month. “These tablets are primarily consisting of counterfeit oxycodone, 30 milligram oxycodone tablets, and counterfeit Xanax.”

Besser said the magnitude of this drug operation goes beyond Salt Lake City or even Utah.

“Over the course of time, millions of counterfeit tablets, which are being distributed across the continental United States,” Besser said.