Public Safety

Hiawatha business owner charged for firearms will remain in jail pending federal trial

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal agent testified during a preliminary and detention hearing Tuesday that methamphetamine, marijuana, ammunition, a firearm and $50,000 in cash was found in a Hiawatha tattoo shop after the owner was arrested for waving a gun around.

Special Agent Robert Friend, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Daniel J. Abbott, 47, owner of River Rats Vapes and Insidious Ink, was arrested last week following a firearms and drug investigation.

The investigation started Feb. 18, 2019, when Abbott reported to Cedar Rapids police that his handgun had been stolen.

Abbott, of Cedar Rapids, who was charged Friday with possession of firearms by an unlawful drug user, said he was at Insidious Ink shoveling snow when he noticed his firearm was missing from his ankle holster, Friend said.

On July 30, Abbott reported to Hiawatha police that money and a handgun were stolen from Insidious Ink. During that contact, Abbott admitted to officers that he used methamphetamine at the business around the time the money and firearm were stolen.

Cedar Rapids police were called Sept. 23, 2019, for a report that a person, later identified as Abbott, was waving a gun, Friend said. Officers found him walking with a backpack and empty holster on his hip. Abbott told the officers he used to carry a firearm but didn’t anymore and wore the holster out of habit.

Friend said police found a syringe with residue consistent with meth, drug paraphernalia, meth and a marijuana edible with “peanut butter” flavor in the backpack. Abbott also had a metal grinder containing marijuana in pocket.

Officers searched the area where he had been walking and found a Colt MK IV .45-caliber pistol on the ground, Friend said. Abbott was charged in Linn County District Court with possession of controlled substances and other charges.

Friend said after this arrest, a Hiawatha police K-9 unit discovered the presence of narcotics at River Rat Vapes and Insidious Ink. Officers obtained a search warrant and found about 200 grams of meth, which according to officials, indicates trafficking.

Officers also found 217 grams of marijuana, drug paraphernalia of pipes, a bong, scales, plastic bags, assorted ammunition, a Ruger .357-caliber revolver and about $50,000 in cash.

The cash was found in a safe, along with meth, Xanax pills, marijuana and marijuana edibles, the agent said.

During the search, officers also found 97 rounds of 9 mm-caliber ammunition, but no 9 mm pistol was found, Friend said. One round of .40- caliber ammunition was found. A Springfield XD pistol magazine was found, but no .40-caliber gun or Springfield firearm.

The only drug-related item found at River Rat Vapes was a marijuana dispensary bag.

Friend said ATF conducted search Oct. 16, 2019, after obtaining a federal warrant for Abbott’s home on Fleetwood Road SW in Cedar Rapids. Officers found two firearms, suspected meth, paraphernalia and about 4,732 rounds of ammunition in various calibers.

Officers also found several checkbooks with “fake checks,” firearms hidden in the attic and materials for making false identification, Friend said. A copy of Abbott’s driver’s license bore a different name.

Abbott told authorities after this search that he started using meth “more than a couple of months” ago, Friend said. Abbott’s former girlfriend told agents that she had seen Abbott using them at his business before September of last year.

During the investigation, authorities discovered Abbott had a civil no-contact order against him in September from his wife or ex-wife, which makes possessing firearms illegal. A tenant of Abbott’s renting a property from him told police Abbott had threatened a former boyfriend of Abbott’s former girlfriend. The person also said he had seen multiple firearms and meth at Insidious Ink.

Abbott also attempted to buy a gun last year, but his application was denied because of the possession charges pending and the no- contact order, Friend said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Roberts ruled there was strong evidence of probable cause and after the events of last year, there were reasons to be concerned that Abbott might be a flight risk if released.

Roberts said many things were “troubling” about Abbott’s actions of reporting stolen firearms while using drugs, attempting to buy firearms after being charged in state court and his threats against others.

Roberts said Abbott would remain in jail pending trial, which hasn’t been set at this time.   

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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