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Alleged drug gang leader refuses to leave his Honolulu cell

                                Gabriel Antone Eberhardt
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Gabriel Antone Eberhardt

A Detroit man who allegedly ran a heavily armed drug gang refused to appear in federal court Monday to answer a 16-count superseding indictment after a federal grand jury heard evidence that he and others operated a clandestine drug lab on Middle Street, cooking methamphetamine and selling heroin and opioids mixed with fentanyl.

Gabriel Antone Eberhardt — along with Jared Northern, Lynden David Lightburn and Michael Malik Garett — is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, in an indictment returned last week.

A deputy U.S. marshal informed U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield’s court on Monday morning that Eberhardt and Northern refused to leave their cells at the Federal Detention Center Honolulu. Their arraignment and plea were continued until Thursday.

Lightburn and Garrett entered pleas of not guilty. Their trial is set for April 3 before U.S. District Judge Jill A. Otake.

Eberhardt is charged with possession of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime. Additionally, he is facing counts pertaining to distribution of a substance containing fentanyl; distribution of methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute a substance containing fentanyl and a substance containing heroin; and possession of firearm and ammunition.

In 2000, Eberhardt was convicted of felony assault with intent to murder and a felony firearm offense in Michigan, and was sentenced to 15 to 25 years in jail, according to court documents. Eberhardt was paroled in February 2017 and 10 days later was arrested for parole violations. He was released in February 2019, and in July 2020 he was charged in Michigan with three firearm offenses.

Northern was charged with distribution of substance containing fentanyl, distribution of methamphetamine and distribution of a substance containing fentanyl and heroin.

Eberhardt’s attorneys, Jason Z. Say of Honolulu and Mohammed Azeem Nasser of Detroit, did not immediately reply to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser request for comment. Northern’s counsel, Randall K. Hironaka; Lightburn’s attorney, Megan K. Kau; and Garett’s attorney, Richard D. Gronna, also did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig S. Nolan, who is prosecuting the case for the government, declined comment.

Eberhardt, 39, allegedly conspired with fellow Detroit resident Jason Darnell Smith to control and operate the “criminal conduct” of their organization, according to court documents. Eberhardt and Smith’s group included friends from Michigan and Hawaii hires.

The alleged drug trafficking organization is accused by federal prosecutors of selling opioids like oxycodone tablets and counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and oxycodone, methamphetamine, the fentanyl-based street drug “Ghan” and “Afghan White,” fentanyl-laced heroin.

Eberhardt “regularly carried a firearm in connection with the narcotics trafficking,” and he had a storage unit in Kaneohe containing controlled substances and firearms, according to federal court documents.

Federal agents gathered evidence that Eberhardt made periodic trips to Detroit during the course of the charged conspiracy, according to court documents. The superseding indictment follows one returned Aug. 19.

On June 30 and July 1, Honolulu police and Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized $120,131 from a storage unit on Waialae Avenue, $102,919 from a storage unit on Hila Place in Pearl City, $24,327.41 from a bag hidden in a Mercedes- Benz and $4,857 from a Young Street residence, according to court documents.

Also on June 30, investigators searched a storage unit on Kawa Street in Kaneohe, the Young Street residence and the Mercedes and uncovered an arsenal that included a Romram/Cugir 5.45×39 mm rifle, a Smith &Wesson 9-mm handgun, a Sig-Sauer .45-caliber pistol, two Bushmaster Firearms .223 5.56-mm-caliber rifles, an Olympic Arms .223 5.56-mm rifle, body armor, a HS Produkt .45-caliber handgun and rounds and magazines of ammunition. All of it, including a 2016 Dodge Charger, is subject to forfeiture proceedings.

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