Federal prosecutors today charged seven people in connection with explosions tied to the illegal and dangerous practice of extracting hash oil from marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
The explosions in Bellevue, Kirkland, Seattle and Puyallup resulted in multiple injuries to innocent bystanders, some of whom were unaware of the illegal activity nearby. One of those injured died due to complications after hospitalization. The defendants will appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle and Tacoma.
“Manufacturing hash oil is illegal and poses a significant risk to families, neighbors and the general public,” said U.S. Attorney Durkan. “An explosion and fire caused by hash oil production at a Bellevue apartment complex caused significant injuries to people trying to escape the flames. We will not stand by and allow this dangerous conduct to endanger the public.”
“Home-based manufacturing of THC remains illegal under state law, even with the passage of Initiative 502,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “The explosion in Puyallup demonstrates how dangerous oil extraction can be. Our office is committed to working with our federal counterparts to ensure Washington’s recreational marijuana system is properly regulated for the safety of our community.”
Three people were charged today in connection with the Bellevue explosion and fire on November 5, 2013. Former Bellevue Mayor Nan Campbell was hospitalized for a broken pelvis she suffered trying to escape the flames. She later died following complications after her hospitalization. Two other apartment residents suffered shattered bones as they had to jump from their upper level apartments. DAVID RICHARD SCHULTZ, II, 32, DANIEL JAMES STRYCHARSKE, 28, and JESSE D. KAPLAN, 31, are charged with Endangering Human Life While Manufacturing Controlled Substances, Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises and Manufacturing Hash Oil and Marijuana.
Two people are charged in connection with an explosion and fire in Puyallup May 20, 2014. SETH M. CLEEK, 31, was allegedly producing hash oil for KEVIN WEEKS, JR., 24, and his company “Cap’n Cosmics,” that makes and sells marijuana edible products. The explosion at the home endangered multiple residents including a 14-month old child. Both men are charged with Endangering Human Life While Manufacturing Controlled Substances, Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises and Manufacturing Hash Oil and Marijuana. Photos from the scene show burned siding, a butane can driven through a plastic pot by the force of the explosion and children’s toys melted by the heat of the fire.
Two additional defendants are charged in connection with explosions in Kirkland and the Mount Baker neighborhood in Seattle. ROBBY WAYNE MEISER, 46, is charged with the January 1, 2014 explosion and fire at the Inglenook Apartments in Kirkland. HUGH RODNEY HARRIS, 65, is charged with the January 7, 2014 explosion at 2802 S. McClellan Street, in Seattle.
“These deadly explosions are reckless and preventable acts,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes. “As marijuana cultivation activities increase, explosions will continue. DEA will stand by our law enforcement partners in stemming this dangerous threat.”
“We are committed in the support of our federal, state and local partners in their ongoing efforts to ensure citizens in our community are safe from illegal acts resulting in violence,” said Douglas R. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Seattle.
Endangering Human Life While Manufacturing Controlled Substances is punishable by up to ten years in prison and three years of supervised release; Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release and Manufacturing Hash Oil and Marijuana is punishable by up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The cases were investigated by multiple local and federal agencies including: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bellevue Police Department, the Seattle Police Department, the Kirkland Police Department, the Puyallup Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. Significant assistance was provided by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.