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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 16, 2018

Former Los Alamos County Man Pleads Guilty to Endangering Human Life While Manufacturing Controlled Substance

Defendant Caused Explosion while Manufacturing Hashish Oil and Wax in his Apartment

ALBUQUERQUE – Joseph Gonzales, 28, a former resident of Los Alamos County, N.M., who now resides in Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance.  Gonzales committed the crime by causing an explosion at an apartment complex while attempting to create hashish oil and wax. 

Gonzales was arrested in July 2017, on a three-count indictment charging him with endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance, and maintaining a residence for the purpose of manufacturing marijuana and hashish oil.  According to the indictment, Gonzales committed the crimes on May 9, 2016, in Los Alamos County, N.M.

During today’s proceedings, Gonzales pled guilty to Count 1 of the indictment charging him with endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance.  In entering the guilty plea, Gonzales admitted that on May 9, 2016, he was illegally attempting to manufacture hashish oil or wax in an apartment in Los Alamos County by using butane gas to extract THC from marijuana to produce hashish oil or wax.  Gonzales also admitted that during the manufacturing process, a build-up of butane gas ignited, causing an explosion which severely burned Gonzales’ body and damaged the apartment complex.

According to his plea agreement, Gonzales possessed a medical marijuana card due to a medical condition.  Gonzales admitted that his medical marijuana card did not give him authorization to manufacture hashish oil or wax.

At sentencing, Gonzales faces a maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.  A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Alamos Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Letitia C. Simms is prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated April 16, 2018