LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - A former owner of ZZ's Kitchen in Abbeville, Louisiana, has been convicted for using his restaurant to store and deal fentanyl in the area.

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In a case that caught the attention of US Drug Enforcement Administration investigators, 41-year-old Gabriel Hawthorne worked with two others who were also indicted - Frederick Malaki Thornton and then-girlfriend Andrea Mitchell - to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the Abbeville area. Court documents point to a series of incidents in March 2022 when an individual exchanged phone calls and text messages with Mitchell, with her agreeing to sell heroin to that person. Mitchell explained to authorities that Hawthorne would mix the heroin before supplying it to her to sell. That sold heroin was seized and sent to the DEA Laboratory where a positive test for fentanyl was confirmed.

Facebook via St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
Facebook via St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
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Hawthorne was convicted of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, specifically fentanyl. He faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1,000,000. Thornton and Mitchell each previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

United States District Judge Robert R. Summerhays presided over the week-long trial. The case was investigated by Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John W. Nickel and J. Luke Walker.

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