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Jury trial set for Utah man accused of running international drug ring

SALT LAKE CITY โ€” A jury trial has been scheduled for a Cottonwood Heights man accused of running an international drug ring.

Meanwhile, attorneys for some of his alleged accomplices indicated in court Wednesday that they are negotiating deals with prosecutors.

Aaron Michael Shamo, who turns 28 next week, appeared in U.S. District Court for a status conference in the case, which is now set for a four-week jury trial beginning Aug. 20. Shamo's attorney, Greg Skordas, noted Shamo has now been in custody for 15 months.

Meanwhile, Drew Wilson Crandall, 31, Shamo's accused partner in the alleged drug operation, is negotiating a deal with prosecutors, according to his attorney.

"We are hopeful and anticipate that there is going to be a resolution," defense attorney Jim Bradshaw told the judge.

Another man charged in the case, Sean Michael Gygi, is also negotiating with prosecutors, his attorney said.

Details about the potential plea agreements were not discussed.

Pressed by the judge on whether evidence gathering in the case is complete, assistant U.S. attorney Michael Gadd said the investigation is "ongoing," with the execution of a recent search warrant turning up 40 boxes of documents and "considerable amount" of computer data. Out of 3 terabytes of evidence, Gadd said he is working to pare down a list of 70 witnesses and 500 exhibits before the trial.

Shamo and Crandall are accused of manufacturing fake prescription-drug pills in Shamo's home and selling them on the darknet โ€” an area of the internet often used for illegal activity โ€” to thousands of people all over the country, at one point raking in $2.8 million in less than a year.

Authorities are investigating 28 overdose deaths they say could be connected to the drug ring, though no charges have been filed in the deaths.

Agents seized nearly 500,000 pills from Shamo's home in Cottonwood Heights, court documents state. Prosecutors say the agents found guns and more than $1 million in cash stuffed in garbage bags, as well as pills made to look like Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and the painkiller Oxycodone

Investigators also came upon a cache of about $500,000 worth of Bitcoin, which exploded in December and reached an estimated value of $8.5 million. Prosecutors successfully motioned to sell the cryptocurrency, along with some of Shamo's other assets.