MAGNET takes down illegal marijuana grow operation

More than 200 marijuana plants were discovered by MAGNET last week.

Photo courtesy of KPD

More than 200 marijuana plants were discovered by MAGNET last week.

KINGMAN – The Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team shut down an illegal cultivation and distribution of marijuana and Butane Honey Oil Friday afternoon.

According to Kingman Police Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper, a year-long investigation resulted in a search warrant being served at a property in the 2200 block of South Wencel Lane east of Kingman near the U.S. Highway 93 and Interstate 40 interchange.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, Bullhead City Police Department, Lake Havasu City Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety and KPD assisted in serving the warrant.

Several buildings were located on the property, including three large greenhouses allegedly containing about 200 marijuana plants, each up to three feet tall. A quarter-pound of BHO in a kitchen area equipped with laboratory equipment for the creation of the oil was also reportedly found.

BHO is a highly concentrated cannabis extract. The process extracts the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the marijuana plant, which is the substance in the plant that gets the user “high.” The THC potency of BHO can be 65 to 90 percent whereas the THC potency in a marijuana plant is currently up to 15 percent.

According to Cooper, THC potency in the 1970s was about 2 percent, and due to biological engineering, has since increased over the years.

The extraction process involves the use of butane and other chemicals. The result is a thick waxy substance similar in appearance to honey, hence the name butane honey oil. The BHO can then be sold or infused into edibles such as cookies, brownies, candy and drinks.

The kitchen area at this property was also being used for the baking and creation of these edibles. BHO labs are very dangerous, equal to, or more dangerous than a methamphetamine lab, Cooper said.

The approximate value of the drugs was $810,000. The marijuana plants and BHO were seized, along with equipment and other assets.

The public safety concern regarding the BHO, even at an approved facility, is that the BHO infusion into edibles is not subject to FDA or Health Department requirements. In this instance, the BHO was being created and infused into edibles in an environment that contained butane, insecticides, animal food and other unsanitary elements.

MAGNET made contact with six people at the property, including the property owner. They have not been arrested or formally charged; however, the felony charges pending are manufacturing of narcotic drugs, production of marijuana possession of marijuana for sale, facilitation to manufacture narcotic drugs, conspiracy to manufacture narcotic drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

MAGNET seized the plants and oil manufacturing equipment. The investigation is ongoing.