SALT LAKE CITY – Aaron Peila, age 33, of Utah and Nevada, will serve 144 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer imposed the sentence Wednesday afternoon in federal court.
For five years, from approximately 2007 through 2012, Peila engaged with other co-conspirators in a large-scale effort to distribute oxycodone in Utah and surrounding areas, federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. Through a significant investigation, agents believe Peila and his co-conspirators distributed approximately 89,000 oxycodone 80 mg tablets and 22,000 oxycodone 30 mg tablets. They also engaged in laundering about $3.8 million in drug proceeds. As a part of his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Peila admitted traveling from Utah to Las Vegas to pick up the oxycodone pills for distribution in Utah.
“Peila clearly engaged in distributor activity throughout the Salt Lake Valley and elsewhere. He engaged persons inside and outside the state to receive large amounts of oxycodone pills and shipped/transferred money in exchange for those pills. While Peila should not be held responsible for the oxycodone epidemic at large, he should be held responsible for his substantial piece of it,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum.
Several co-conspirators involved in the case have pleaded guilty and are serving sentences ranging from 72 months to probation. Sentencing is pending for three individuals.
“The far-reaching impact generated by this law enforcement operation was made possible through the joint investigative partnership between DEA and IRS-Criminal Investigation. This criminal organization was at the very forefront of the local opioid epidemic and its profit-driven enterprise serves as a relevant and timely example of the scope of the problem that is killing Utah’s citizen at an alarming rate of 24 per month,” DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Besser said today.
“Today’s sentencing is a direct result of the hard work done by the DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force here in Salt Lake City. IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to be a part of this team and is committed to assisting our law enforcement partners in battling narcotics traffickers here in Utah and across America. We will continue to use our unique expertise in financial investigations and following the money trail,” IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan said today.