Utah Man Admits Being Alphabay Vendor’s “PR Guy”

One of the heads of the Pharma-Master drug distribution organization pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to his role in distributing fentanyl and alprazolam through the now-defunct darknet market “Alphabay.” Mario Anthony Noble, 31, told prosecutors that he had helped Aaron Shamo sell millions of dollars worth of drugs out of Shamo’s Cottonwood Heights home.

According to information Noble admitted in the plea agreement, Shamo needed Noble to work as the so-called “backbone” of the Alphabay account the Utah-based drug trafficking used to distribute their products. Shamo produced counterfeit benzos and opioid pills for 11 months between December 2015 and November 2016. Noble admitted that he had worked for Shamo during that period but he explained that he had not worked for Shamo for all 11-months. During this time, Shamo continued to hire employees to help with his workload.

Noble said that Shamo—the leader of the group also known as Pharma-Master himself—created a “customer service” or “PR” position that would handle customer complaints and respond to inquiries from potential customers. Shamo gave that position to Noble and by the very nature of the job, required access to the Alphabay account. Noble said that Shamo created an Alphabay “profile” for Noble under the name “DRWARIO.” He also said that Shamo gave him limited access to the Pharma-Master account.

Many darknet markets allow vendors to provide other market accounts with limited access to various functions for the exact purpose described above. On Zion Market, for instance, vendors can provide other Zion accounts with access to the vendor account messages, remaining stock, product list, etc. Of course, the Zion example is just an example; Zion recently vanished and took the funds of thousands of users.

Not long after Shamo had launched Pharma-Master, Noble joined as the customer support employee. He worked as a regular employee. According to Noble’s own statements, he quit helping Shamo for a short period of time in 2016 but started working as a part time employee again in October 2016. After he came back to work for Shamo, Shamo gave him $400/week for helping manage the Alphabay account. And Shamo needed all the help he could get; during the operation, Pharma-Master handled 5,600 orders that totalled almost $3 million.

“Eventually, I was unable to keep up with the demands of my assignment, so Aaron Shamo hired another person, whose name I learned was Drew, to help with my responsibilities,” the 31-year-old wrote in a surprisingly detailed confession. He was referring to one of the primary co-defendants the authorities had already dealt with named Drew Wilson Crandall.

Unfortunately for Noble, federal authorities raided Shamo and ended his operation only a month after Noble had rejoined the team. Authorities rounded up six co-conspirators. The majority have pleaded guilty. Shamo’s trial will take place in August.