Large Hexane Hash Oil Extraction Lab Seized in El Cajon
EL CAJON, Calif. -- On December 2, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotic Task Force and El Cajon Police Department executed a state search warrant at a warehouse located at 1478 Fayette Street in El Cajon. Investigators uncovered an active and sophisticated hexane hash oil extraction laboratory operation.
Additional DEA personnel and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department Marijuana Enforcement Team, specially trained to dismantle these types of laboratories, responded to the scene. The El Cajon Fire Department responded to ensure the safety of law enforcement personnel and neighboring businesses. San Diego County HAZMAT and San Diego Fire Department HAZMAT also responded to assist with clean-up of this extensive laboratory operation.
Investigators seized approximately 390 pounds of unprocessed marijuana, 150 pounds of hexane-contaminated marijuana plant waste, 139 pounds of concentrated marijuana oil, sophisticated laboratory equipment, multiple 55-gallon drums containing hexane, and unused butane.
One adult male, whose name is not being released at this time due to the ongoing investigation, was arrested on state charges of manufacturing a controlled substance.
Hexane is a highly flammable liquid and its vapors can be explosive. A mere spark of static electricity can ignite an entire room. This quantity of hexane could have caused extensive damage to neighboring businesses, had there been an explosion. These types of extraction operations pose an extreme risk to public safety.
Extraction is the process of removing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, from marijuana plant material using a solvent. The final product, a concentrated oil, can be up to 90% pure. Hash oil is often consumed in e-cigarettes and vaporizers, found in edible products like cookies, brownies and gummy candies; topicals/lotions, tinctures, capsules and patches. If not properly disposed, the toxic waste produced from these labs can cause environmental destruction, such as contamination of soil and the ground water supply.
“Due to the flammable solvents utilized in the marijuana extraction process, these types of laboratories pose an inherent threat to public safety,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “The DEA and our partnering law enforcement agencies are committed to ensuring the safety of the public by dismantling dangerous labs such as this one.”
“The El Cajon Police Department would like to thank all of the agents, detectives, and fire and safety personnel who assisted in this investigation,” said El Cajon Police Department Lieutenant Keith MacArthur. “These types of labs pose a significant threat to public safety. It was truly a team effort to shut down this dangerous operation.”
Excessive flammable solvent containers and unusual chemical odors can be telltale signs of a hash oil extraction lab. If you are aware of an illegal hash oil extraction laboratory in your neighborhood, please call the DEA at (858) 616-4100.
AGENCIES: El Cajon Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Department Marijuana Enforcement Team, U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, San Diego Fire Department Hazmat, El Cajon Fire Department, San Diego County Hazmat, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office