Rash of Alleged SoCal ‘Honey Oil’ Drug Operations Nets Arrests

Three “honey oil” operations — including one that exploded — were discovered in Southern California within 24 hours n Tuesday and Wednesday, prompting the response of firefighters, hazardous materials teams and police.

In Glendale, three people were arrested after a hash-oil lab was discovered inside a home on Tuesday night, when another such operation caught on fire in Malibu. 

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Donovan Butez, Brianna Oppenheimer, and Leary Stuart Jr. were arrested after a drug operation was found in a Glendale home on April 8, 2014. (Credit: Glendale Police Department)

Then, on Wednesday, a similar marijuana extraction operation prompted the evacuation of an apartment complex in Tustin, authorities said.

The Glendale alleged drug operation was found within a home in the 1200 block of East Lexington Drive (map), in between two apartment buildings and a few blocks from a busy commercial area, Glendale Police Department spokeswoman Tahnee Lighftoot confirmed.

The lab was discovered Tuesday night during a probation compliance check, Lightfoot said. An AK-47 rifle with a high-capacity magazine and a 9 mm handgun were found in the home, she said.

Three Glendale residents were arrested on suspicion of a variety of charges, including manufacturing drugs, Lightfoot said. They were Leary Stuart Jr., 22, Brianna Oppenheimer, 25, and Donovan Butez, 25.

“One of these days, unfortunately, we’re going to find an explosion that’s going to take down a house and several people or an apartment building,” said Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.

The discovery came the same evening that Los Angeles County firefighters responded to burning hash-oil operation at a home in Malibu in the 1200 block of Encinal Canyon Road.

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Fire crews responded to a home in Malibu after a blaze broke out. (Credit: KTLA)

A 25-year-old man who was airlifted and hospitalized with burns was likely to be arrested, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Fray Lupian said early Wednesday.

Hazardous materials crews were still on scene at the home at about 2 a.m., eight hours after the Fire Department said on Twitter that it was responding to the home.

Investigators found “honey oil,” a drug made from marijuana, at the home, Lupian said. Highly potent butane honey oil, or BHO, is a term used interchangeably with honey oil and hash oil.

Its manufacture is dangerous and spreading, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

A third hash oil operation discovered in the region was investigated by authorities in Tustin on Wednesday afternoon. It prompted the evacuation of 18 units in an apartment complex at about 1:30 p.m., police said.

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Firefighters respond to an alleged honey oil operation in Tustin on April 9, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Firefighters, Tustin police, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad and a hazardous materials team responded to an apartment building in the 13000 block of Myford Road (map) after a drug operation was found there, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Gail Krause.

One adult male was taken into custody, Tustin police Sgt. Dana Harper said.

“We determined that there was marijuana extraction processing going on. That uses some dangerous chemicals that are highly flammable,” Harper said. “The bomb squad has informed us that these chemicals are dangerous if not handled properly.”

A year ago, two men were seriously injured when a hash oil lab blew up in Tustin, Harper said.

On March 29, another hash oil operation was uncovered in Glendale in the 800 block of North Glendale Avenue, Lightfoot said, confirming information first reported in a Glendale News-Press article.

In Commerce on March 19, two men were critically injured and a home was knocked off its foundation when a hash-oil operation exploded.

KTLA’s Chip Yost and Tracy Bloom contributed to this report.