HANFORD – Police say they found a honey oil lab in Hanford while conducting a probation sweep.
Police say they conducted a sweep last week at a Hanford apartment on Hume Avenue and found a full-blown honey oil lab. Honey oil, or hash oil, is a concentrated cannabis product made using highly flammable butane to extract the psychoactive THC from the plant.
Authorities said they do the sweeps to ensure that people on probation are complying with the conditions set by the court. The checks are primarily focused on drug and gang offenders.
Police say they found pressurized extraction devices, butane/propane canisters, packaging and storing equipment and a large amount of marijuana processed to make honey oil.
Officers arrested Sean Ryan, 28, on suspicion of multiple narcotics violations. If convicted, Ryan faces additional jail time because the lab was within 1,000 feet of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in 2015 that makes it an aggravated felony to manufacture butane hash oil and methamphetamine near an occupied residence or structure. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
Ryan's bail was set at $572,500.
Officers say they seized 10 pounds of marijuana, 246 grams of processed honey oil, 18 individual packages of edible marijuana processed for sale, 120 grams of "Honey Butter" and 15 grams of "Honey Wax.'
It gets its name from the gooey, honey-like consistency of the final product. Some honey oil manufacturers further refine the product to create a substance like hard candy known as “shatter.”
The butane can cause fires and even explosions resulting in severe burns and injuries.
The labs are often contaminated with hazardous vapors and chemicals.
Butane gas is heavier than air, which causes it to settle near the ground. Lighting a cigarette or even a spark of static electricity from walking across carpet can ignite the gas. Household appliances can also set off the explosion.
A number of honey oil lab explosions have been reported in the Central Valley, including locally.
A honey oil lab caused an early morning explosion in a Travelodge Lemoore room on Jan. 17, 2016.
Christian Villalobos, 21, of Avenal, and William Boyajian, 18, of Fresno, were injured by the explosion and were taken to area hospitals.
Villalobos and Boyajian were suspected of arson, criminal conspiracy, child endangerment, manufacturing a controlled substance and other related charges.
Lemoore police said the explosion was likely caused by vapors from a flammable solvent being ignited. The blast reportedly blew the motel room door off its hinges and shattered the window.
Officials say the growing number of honey oil lab explosions is likely due to the growing popularity of the drug.
Because honey oil is 90 to 95 percent pure THC, users can get high using smaller amounts than with marijuana.
Hash oil labs are often set up in confined spaces, which can make them difficult to spot. In many cases, the labs aren't found until they explode.
The biggest indicators of a nearby honey oil lab are increased traffic to and from the home and a strong smell of butane. Neighbors may also notice an accumulation of discarded blue caps from the butane canisters.
Authorities urge residents who suspect a butane honey oil lab in their neighborhood to contact their local law enforcement agency.
The number for the Hanford Police Department is 585-2540.