Metal pipes used to extract Hash Oil from Marijuana. (DEA photo)
Butane used in the extraction process. (DEA photo)
SEP 17 (SAN DIEGO) –Nine people are in custody following DEA’s takedown of Operation Shattered Dreams. Warrants served in San Diego, Spring Valley, Chula Vista, and El Cajon are the conclusion of a year-long undercover drug operation. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) served numerous search warrants from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, which resulted in the seizure of multiple active Butane Hash Oil Laboratories. There was a large quantity of Hash Oil seized, along with over $25,000.00 in U.S. currency, an assault rifle, along with marijuana necessary to make Hash Oil, and Hash Oil packaged for sale. One gram of Hash Oil sells for $40.00 to $80.00 making the trafficking of Hash Oil extremely profitable.
“DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to target and relentlessly pursue the individuals responsible that are running these dangerous labs”, says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “The number of explosions and fires that we have had in San Diego County just this year make Hash Oil cases a priority. The people who are using dangerous chemicals to extract Hash Oil do so without concern for anything other than making a profit”
US currency and hash oil packaged for sale at one of the warrant locations. (DEA photo)
Hash Oil. (DEA photo)
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) Extraction Laboratories have caused roughly 20 explosions and fires in the San Diego County area since October of 2013. These fires have resulted in individual injuries as well as the displacement of tenants in San Diego County. The process to extract Hash Oil from Marijuana is extremely dangerous due to the use of Butane. The Butane, which is extremely flammable, binds to the THC in marijuana and creates Hash Oil. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient in marijuana that makes users high.
“The use of flammable and explosive gases in the manufacturing process of controlled substances endangers innocent members of our community,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “Neighbors, people passing by, and the defendants themselves are placed at grave risk of serious injury or death by these illegal lab operations.”
Assault Rifle seized during warrants. (DEA photo)
Other street or slang names for Hash Oil are “Dabs”, “earwax” and “Shatter.” Marijuana seen in San Diego County can contain anywhere from 23% to 35% THC. Extracting Hash Oil from marijuana raises the level of THC to 75% to 85%, making the Hash Oil. Hash Oil is in great demand for this reason. Using Butane in a small contained area without ventilation is extremely dangerous. Without proper ventilation and with the introduction of a spark or flame, butane fumes that result from Hash Oil Extraction can result in an explosion and resultant fire. Thanks to San Diego County HazMat and San Diego Fire Department HazMat for helping to make these locations safe.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the defendants, who face a variety of charges including: Manufacturing a Controlled Substance, Cultivation of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana for Sale, Possession of Concentrated Cannabis, Child Endangerment, and Possession of an Illegal Assault Rifle. Based on a variety of factors, the various defendants could face sentences ranging from felony probation, local jail time, or State Prison commitments. Arraignments for in-custody defendants are expected on Friday, September 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 12 of the San Diego Superior Court downtown. Charges will be announced at that time.
Those arrested are:
David Joel Demaso
James Andrew Crom
Derek James Nepote
Matthew Steven Darby
Alexia Crom (aka: Alexia Samaniego)
Francine Sarda Gonzalez
Photo credit DEA