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Tucson home drug lab explosion part of dangerous trend

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Tucson home drug lab explosion part of dangerous trend

By Kevin Keen. CREATED Jun 4, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Shattered glass, screams and shock filled a west side neighborhood. The cause, according to police, was a trio making drugs at their home. But they weren’t dealing with meth. It’s something sticker and, KGUN9 learns, it's growing in popularity.
Tucson police evacuated the neighborhood off Roger near Flowing Wells Monday after two back-to-back explosions at a townhouse, investigators said. Windows were blown out, glass had sprayed up to 15 feet and armed police wore hazmat suits when heading inside.
Officers arrested Francisco Sandoval, 29, Vanessa Ybarra, 28, and Wesley Dunson, 19, for felony drug-making charges. More specifically, for making a potent narcotic called "hash oil" made from marijuana.
“The danger is just as bad or possibly even worse,” said Sgt. Chris Widmer, comparing meth production to that of hash oil.
Many YouTube videos detail the process, which requires the highly flammable gas butane.
One misstep can lead to an explosion. Two of the arrested were burned in the blast.
“They're putting a lot of people in danger around them -- not just themselves,” Widmer said. “There's no safe way to do this.”
“These explosions are often misidentified as pipe bombs or meth labs,” wrote Ariz. Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Ramona Sanchez. “Even more disturbing is that initial explosions can lead to secondary explosions and fires!”
Widmer said this is Tucson's second hash oil explosion in about two months. The last one happened at a motel.
“It's becoming more prevalent,” he said.
From San Diego to Lansing, Mich. to Edmond, Okla., media outlets reported similar explosions in recent months at houses and motels, destroying walls, windows and buildings.
The U.S. Fire Administration, part of FEMA, issued a nationwide warning, writing in part: "In states with legalized use and availability of medical marijuana, these incidents appear to be increasing." Those states include Arizona.
Police want criminals to know the danger of trying to make this stuff before they start. They also want neighbors to call 9-1-1 when they have reason to think it's happening next door.
Sandoval, Ybarra and Dunson each face one count of "conspiracy to manufacture a narcotic drug," one count of "unlawful possession of a narcotic drug" and one count of "unlawful possession of a marijuana for sale."