Feds Seek Maximum Of 10 Years In Bellevue Hash-Oil Blast

WASHINGTON:  Federal prosecutors are seeking a 10-year, maximum sentence for a man who joined two tech workers in running a hash-oil operation that exploded in 2013, destroying a Bellevue apartment building and causing the death of a former mayor.

David Richard Schultz II is being sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court, and federal prosecutors say they want to send a message to others who might think Washington’s legalization of marijuana in 2012 gave them license to engage in dangerous home production of potent pot extracts.

“If Washington’s experiment in decriminalizing marijuana is to succeed, it is important to send a public message that merely because some marijuana-related activity is now tolerated, that does not mean that those who go too far … will escape prosecution and significant criminal sanction,” the U.S. Attorneys Office wrote in a sentencing memo.

Nan Campbell, an 87-year-old former Bellevue councilwoman and the city’s first female mayor, was sleeping in another unit when the explosion rocked the three-level building at the Hampton Greens Apartments on Nov. 5, 2013. She tripped as she escaped, broke her pelvis and died of complications two weeks later.

Nip Dangerous Hash Oil Production In The Bud

WASHINGTON:  If you think you’re hearing more and more about hash oil explosions, it’s not your imagination.

Explosions typically happen when amateurs try to make hash oil — a concentrated form of marijuana that can be inhaled or used in edibles — by using a highly flammable solvent such as butane or propane gas or liquid. Without proper ventilation, gases can build up that require only a spark to explode. Some explosions have been so powerful they’ve lifted buildings off their foundations.

Although hash oil explosions have become common enough in the United States that FEMA has issued warnings about its dangers in apartments and hotel rooms, they’ve spiked in Washington and Colorado, where marijuana is now more easily obtained because it’s legal for recreational use.

In Colorado, there were 32 butane explosions involving hash oil in 2014 — three times the number reported in 2013, before marijuana was legalized.

The Feds’ Surprising Response To Exploding Hash-Oil Labs

WASHINGTON:  Eight months ago, an explosion and fire tore through the Hampton Greens apartment complex in Bellevue. It happened at 6:30 in the morning. Among the residents was Nan Campbell, the 87-year-old former mayor of Bellevue. She was the city’s first female mayor, elected in 1988.

According to charging documents filed July 22 in US District Court in connection with the explosion, Campbell “was forced to flee the building as a result of the fire, and fell and fractured her pelvis while doing so.” Another woman in the building had to “drop out of her third-story window to escape the flames,” which resulted in a fractured spine, broken arm, and broken ankle. Yet another woman fractured her leg after leaping from a second-story window to escape. Authorities say the fire began after butane fuel, which was being used to make hash oil, ignited in one of the apartments. Campbell happened to be in a neighboring unit at the time. She was taken to the hospital after her fall, and “she later expired due to complications” from her injuries.

At a press conference on July 22, US Attorney Jenny Durkan announced she was filing federal charges against seven people who allegedly operated hash-oil-manufacturing labs that exploded, including that residential lab in Bellevue. Other explosions cited occurred in a house in Puyallup, a house in Seattle, and an apartment building in Kirkland. Seven suspects face up to 35 years in prison on charges that include endangering human life while manufacturing a controlled substance, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and manufacturing hash oil.

What was typical about the press conference was the rah-rah drug-war nature of it all, right down to the silly name, “Operation Shattered.” Federal drug crackdowns—and the media circuses that promote them—historically amount to law-enforcement officials slapping each other on the back for sending people to prison without actually making a dent in drug supply or curtailing harms. Ironically, this aggressive enforcement drives drug manufacturing further underground, which is how you end up with hash-oil labs in apartment buildings, or meth labs in motels for that matter.


Puyallup Police Get Educated On New Frontier Of Drug Labs

WASHINGTON: When an unexpected THC/hash oil drug lab explosion occurred in the 1500 block of Shaw Road on May 20, the Puyallup Police Department and Central Pierce Fire and Rescue responded not wholly knowing what to expect.

“We never have had anything like this before,” said Captain Scott Engle, spokesperson for the police department. “This is fairly new on the radar screen in our area. We’re just now starting to see (these drug labs) around here. There’s only been three others known in Pierce County prior to ours.”

But by far, experts are saying this is the most significant incident on record in the South Sound region. Engle said these kind of THC/hash oil operations are becoming more and more prevalent, because people can now easily learn how to start one just by viewing a You Tube video.