Drew Wilson Crandall, an alleged member of a Utah-based darknet opioid ring, must wait for an upcoming trial from behind bars, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled in late November. A grand jury had previously indicted Crandall and five co-conspirators for their roles in an international drug trafficking organization.
Crandall allegedly helped Aaron Michael Shamo rise as a successful darknet vendor. According to the prosecution, Shamo sold fentanyl-pressed “oxycodone” pills and counterfeit Xanax under the pseudonym “Pharma-Master.” As the investigation into Pharma-master proceeded, investigators uncovered evidence of a much larger criminal conspiracy than they had initially discovered. The first Indictment accused only Crandall and Shamo of founding and participating in the criminal enterprise.
Superseding indictments encompassed a much wider group of suspected conspirators, but prosecutors maintain that Shamo and Crandall played the most significant roles. The duo bought pill presses, coloring agents, stamps for manufacturer logos, and pill fillers and binders. They ordered fentanyl and alprazolam from suppliers in China, court records revealed.
After establishing a pill production center, the conspirators allegedly created the Pharma-master darknet identity. As Pharma-master, Shamo and Crandall distributed more than 12,000 grams of controlled substances. From the Utah lab, the conspirators sold hundreds of thousands of fake oxycodone pills to buyers on the darknet. They created fentanyl pills pressed like certain legitimately manufactured oxycodone pills. One listing advertised “oxycodone 30mg.” The pill had the “A 215” marker used by the pharmaceutical Activis.
In less than one year, court documents revealed, Shamo and Crandall earned more than 2.8 million dollars from counterfeit pill sales. Police found 500,000 pills at a property owned by Shamo. During the raid at his Cottonwood Heights home, authorities found one million dollars stored in garbage bags.
As the operation grew, Shamo and Crandall had allegedly needed more members and locations to stash and receive supplies. They recruited Alexandrya Marie Tonge, Katherine Lauren Ann Bustin, Mario Anthony Noble, and Sean Michael Gygi. Federal authorities first arrested Shamo. Crandall, the prosecution claimed, had obstructed federal investigations by “globe-trotting.” Police caught him in Hawaii where he had allegedly continued his involvement in the conspiracy. The other defendants responded to a federal court summons.
Crandall maintained that his time overseas had no connection to the illegal activity federal authorities had accused him of committing. He told the court that he had returned to Hawaii after his globe-trotting trip in order to marry his girlfriend. The prosecution argued that he had fled in hopes of avoiding arrest.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball believed the weight of the criminal activity and flight risk outweighed Crandall’s strong community support and lack of criminal history. The 30-year-old will remain in custody until his next court appearance.
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