Inside the newsroom: Why the family of Aaron Shamo was willing to talk

Courtesy the Shamo family

A photo of Aaron Shamo. Aaron Shamo’s story uncovers the secret world of the darknet and its role in the opioid epidemic. Shamo’s family agreed to tell more about this son and brother.

SALT LAKE CITY — Late on Thursday night, hours after the Deseret News first posted online the investigative piece about her younger brother — “Inside the rise and fall of Aaron Shamo” — Stephanie Shamo reached her brother in the Weber County Jail.

Line by line she read him the story about his life, from troubled youth to tech-savvy bitcoin miner to alleged international drug kingpin and arrest. It centered around fentanyl and the opioid crisis, and Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security agents believe he has had a big role in spreading pills and the plague of opioid abuse across the country.

One need not have sympathy for Aaron Shamo to understand the pain of the Shamo family and the thousands of families who have lost loved ones to the deadly opioid crisis. Sellers and illicit drug users — everybody loses.

This week’s story by Deseret News investigative reporter and editor Jesse Hyde, appearing on the front page of the print edition Sunday and currently online, details Shamo’s story as a way of uncovering the secret world of the darknet and its role in the opioid epidemic — more than 59,000 dead in 2016 alone.

“We’re undergoing this huge societal change,” Hyde said as we discussed the story and the monthslong investigation into the crisis. As a journalist and as a parent, the question he raises is this: “What’s the best way to live within that?”

The internet is disrupting both…

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