Benton Harbor man last of 17 defendants to be sentenced for drug and gun trafficking

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- A 22-year-old Benton Harbor man, Earl Austin IV, was sentenced to 108 months in prison for his role in trafficking methamphetamine, guns, and machinegun switches.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan initially announced charges against Austin and nine other defendants on December 15, 2022. Seven additional defendants were also later charged in three different criminal cases.

Through the investigation, officials seized over one pound of methamphetamine, five firearms, and three machinegun switches over the course of six months. Undercover officers bought methamphetamine, fentanyl, and oxycodone from Austin on 17 different occasions.

He also sold machinegun switches to undercover officers on two separate occasions, and an assault rifle and two pistols on three separate occasions.

Police eventually executed a search warrant at Austin’s residence and found more methamphetamine and two guns. Austin is a felon and prohibited from possessing firearms. Austin proceeded to trial, where he was found guilty on all 15 indictments. 

Each of Austin’s codefendants also pleaded guilty. Robert Griffin was sentenced to 70 months in prison for selling methamphetamine. Rhonda Acklin was sentenced to 41 months in prison for selling methamphetamine. Evorion Anderson was sentenced to 70 months in prison for selling methamphetamine and machinegun switches.

Ten other defendants were charged with firearm violations, mostly related to machinegun switches. Three defendants were also charged with being felons in possession of firearms

Austin was the last of 17 defendants to be sentenced from this investigation. 

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