Fed Court upholds dark web drug market conviction where bitcoin was used for payment

Quick Take

  • USA v. Shamo is a federal criminal case involving a dark web drug conspiracy using bitcoin for sales.
  • After conviction, defendant filed a motion for acquittal 
  • The Court denied the motion, finding substantial evidence to support the conviction 

USA v. Shamo, Case №2:16-CR-631-DAK (D.D.Utah 9/20/2019) [NMR]

Link to order

This opinion from a Utah federal court denies a motion for a judgment of acquittal in a criminal case.  That's what you do when you've been convicted of a crime and don't like the results because, say, you want to argue that the prosecutor screwed up or the jury got it wrong (and you don't want to go to prison). These motions are filed as a matter of course in criminal cases, and while they are occasionally successful, they are typically not so much, which is what happened here in USA v. Shamo.

So, what's this case about?  Aaron Shamo was convicted on August 30, 2019, in Utah federal court for “engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, three counts of aiding and abetting the importation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, manufacture of a controlled substance, and two counts of knowing and intentional adulteration of drugs while held for sale,” according to a press release associated with the conviction.

Shamo ran a Dark Web storefront that allowed people to buy drugs with bitcoin. The buyers were individuals and other dealers around the country who could leverage Shamo’s contacts in China to get fentanyl and other opioids. After federal agents were able to gather evidence on the operation, Shamo and his co-conspirators were indicted, and ultimately convicted.  For the eleventy-millionth time, the notion that bitcoin can do anything to save you from being convicted of crimes is here, again, debunked.

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