Hawai'i State News

Honolulu couple charged in Waikīkī fentanyl overdose that led to death of Big Island man

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A Honolulu couple was charged in federal court this week in connection to a mass fentanyl overdose that hospitalized three people and killed two men — including a Hawai‘i Island resident.

Avery Garrard and Keina Drageset were arrested on June 23, each on a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, resulting in the deaths of Steven Berengue, 53 of Kailua-Kona, and Joseph Iseke, 44, of Kailua, O‘ahu.

Investigators believe Garrard and Drageset were the suppliers and part of the distribution chain of the fentanyl. The couple is scheduled to appear in Hawai‘i District Court for a detention hearing on Friday and a preliminary hearing on July 11.

The suspects’ charge stems from an incident that occurred earlier this month at Outrigger Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort. The Honolulu Police Department and emergency responders answered a 911 call from the hotel at 6:22 a.m. on June 4. They found five people unresponsive or in need of medical attention.


Iseke was dead at the scene. Berengue was taken to the hospital where he died less than 24 hours later. The surviving victims told investigators they believed the drug they snorted was cocaine/and or molly (MDMA). They were unaware the substance possibly contained fentanyl.

According to court documents, multiple types of drugs were found at the scene. One appeared to be a small baggie with a white crystalline substance, along with a glass pipe, which presumptively tested positive for meth. A black, tar like substance was also found in a plastic bag, which investigators believed to be black-tar heroin.

According to documents, a confidential source told law enforcement the drugs were sold to the victims by mistake.


Another confidential source listed in the affidavit identified Garrard as their sole supplier of fentanyl for the past few months.

On June 23, investigators with the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI executed a search warrant on the residence where Drageset and Garrard were living. The search yielded multiple baggies of an undetermined amount of crystal methamphetamine and about 500 grams of fentanyl. Approximately $100,000 in cash also was seized.

During the investigation, officers found a laptop that had drug orders from the Dark Web. USPS records showed Garrard and Drageset received several packages from California containing narcotics.


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