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Utah man to stay jailed after authorities say he made pills

Utah man to stay jailed after authorities say he made pills

(Salt Lake County Jail)


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge on Monday ordered a Utah man to remain jailed after prosecutors accused him of making thousands of painkillers and anti-anxiety pills while stashing away guns and more than $1 million in cash.

Magistrate Judge Paul Warner said he was worried that 26-year-old defendant Aaron Shamo could be a flight risk.

Prosecutors said they found 70,000 pills at his Cottonwood Heights home that were made to look like oxycodone but actually contained fentanyl. Authorities also say agents discovered 25,000 Xanax pills, an anti-anxiety drug.

Shamo was the only one in the home and two pill-manufacturing machines were running when agents arrived to search it, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stewart Young said.

"He was caught red-handed printing the drugs," Young said.

Shamo is charged with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. He has not yet entered a plea.

Warner said officials have no idea how much money Shamo can access and also cited concerns about him complying with terms of a supervised release.

Shamo was already on probation for an earlier DUI when he was arrested Nov. 22 by federal agents, and he had failed to appear in court for a past traffic violation.

Prosecutors said he received chemicals, including fentanyl powder, from China to make the pills. Shamo kept detailed logs of where the pills were shipped around the country, Young said.

Young said Shamo had about $1.2 million in cash, five rifles and a handgun stored in his home and a "stash house" in West Jordan.

Young said it would be dangerous to release Shamo pending trial because he could have financial means to escape and possible contacts in China.

Shamo's attorney Adam Bridge disputed the idea that his client had special contacts.

"I don't think it would be very difficult for any of us to order something illegal from China," Bridge said.

Bridge said federal agents have seized his client's possessions and cash, preventing him from engaging in any activities, and other items left in his home were stolen later that day because officers didn't lock up after they left.

Bridge suggested agents could outfit Shamo with an ankle monitor, seize his passport and subject him to random searches if he were freed.

Warner wasn't swayed by the lawyer's arguments.

Throughout the hearing, Shamo, wearing a blue jail jumpsuit and handcuffs shackled at his waist, stared straight ahead. He spoke only to correct the judge's spelling of his name.

If convicted, Shamo could face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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MICHELLE L. PRICE

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