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Federal Criminal Charges Filed Against Seven People Involved in Hash Oil Explosions

July 22 (SEATTLE) –Today, seven people were charged in connection with explosions tied to the illegal and dangerous practice of extracting hash oil from marijuana.  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 later today.

“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.”

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 were 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 that was 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 were 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.

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.

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