Martin County Resident Pleads Guilty to Manufacturing Hash Oil in His Apartment Laboratory and to Weapons Charges
A Martin County resident pled guilty yesterday to manufacturing hash oil by using a butane hash oil laboratory in his apartment and to related weapons charges.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, A.D. Wright, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, William D. Snyder, Sherriff, Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), and David Dyess, Chief, Stuart Police Department (SPD) made the announcement.
Daniel Paul Vranich, 31, of Lake Park, FL, pled guilty before Chief U.S. Magistrate Frank J. Lynch Jr., in Fort Pierce, to charges of endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance, punishable by up to ten years in prison; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, punishable by a consecutive five years in prison; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, punishable by up to ten years in prison.
According to the stipulated factual basis in support of the guilty plea, at approximately 4:00 a.m. on December 30, 2014, 911 Emergency Services received a call, regarding an explosion originating from an apartment in Stuart, Florida. In the apartment, the Stuart Police Department, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Martin County Fire Rescue (MCFR), Stuart Fire Rescue (SFR) and State Fire Marshal’s Office discovered a smoldering fire and a large industrial vacuum drying oven with a timing device. DEA and Hazardous Material Unit (Hazmat) determined that the chemicals, equipment and other items were consistent of a Butane Hash Oil (BHO) laboratory. A witness identified Daniel Paul Vranich and his girlfriend, as the couple who had been living in the apartment for the past year, with their twin baby girls. SPD detectives found large glass cylinders containing approximately 20 pounds of marijuana, numerous empty butane cans, air pumps/compressors, a 1.9 cubic foot vacuum oven, wax paper with approximately 48 grams of BHO, a food saver sealing machine, two digital scales, an electric grinder, a money counting machine, a vacuum chamber, and numerous containers and storage bags. SPD detectives also found a loaded Sig Sauer .45 caliber pistol and numerous personal documents belonging to Vranich.
According to the stipulated factual basis in support of guilty plea, Vranich admitted that he was committing the drug trafficking crime of manufacturing and possessing with intent to distribute the controlled substances marijuana and hashish oil, and that the possession of the aforementioned Sig Sauer pistol was in furtherance of the defendant’s drug trafficking crime. Vranich also admitted in the factual basis that while manufacturing and attempting to manufacture hashish oil, he created a substantial risk of harm to human life.
Hash oil is a highly potent derivative of marijuana, obtained by extracting the resins containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active psychoactive compound, from marijuana buds and plant matter through a chemical process using materials and equipment like those found in Vranich’s apartment. Because the butane vapor created during the process is extremely volatile, highly flammable and large amounts are required in the process of extracting the resin from the raw marijuana, explosions and fires from accidents have resulted in the destruction of property, severe injuries and even death.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ATF, DEA, SPD, MCSO, MCFR, SFR and State Fire Marshal’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.