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A Federal Way man who led an illegal marijuana “medibles” manufacturing operation was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to six years in prison and three years’ supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. KEVIN WEEKS 25, directed others to use highly flammable butane gas to make hash oil. On May 20, 2014 one operation at a Puyallup residence exploded and caught fire. The evidence showed that after the explosion, WEEKS threatened an associate to keep him working and to attempt to hide WEEKS’ own involvement. WEEKS pleaded guilty in April 2015 to Endangering Human Life While Manufacturing Controlled Substances, Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises and Manufacturing Hash Oil & Marijuana.
At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said “What disturbs the court about this case is the disregard for human life. The process of manufacturing marijuana into hash oil is dangerous and stupid. Threatening other people to do your bidding makes it a perfect storm.”
“No one signed off on the use of dangerous manufacturing methods in residential neighborhoods when they voted to legalize marijuana,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Not only did the hash oil manufacturing process that this defendant used risk explosions, the final marijuana product was packaged to appeal to kids using an iconic logo from a children’s breakfast cereal. We will continue to investigate and prosecute these types of cases in coordination with our state and local partners.”
The hash oil manufacturing operation first came to the attention of law enforcement on May 20, 2014 when a large explosion shook a Puyallup residential neighborhood. WEEKS’ co-defendant Seth M. Cleek was working for WEEKS when he manufactured hash oil in the yard at the home and the explosive gas ignited. Butane canisters were hurled in every direction – putting those living near the scene, and first responders at risk. One canister was driven through a plastic planter – demonstrating the force of the explosion. Fortunately Cleek’s family, including an 18-month-old child, was not injured in the blast.
According to records filed in the case, WEEKS was paying Cleek $10 for each “tube” of marijuana he turned into butane honey oil (BHO). The process, which involves forcing butane gas through marijuana clippings packed in a tube, and then boiling off the solvent, can prove highly explosive. The fire resulting from the May 20, 2015 explosion melted the siding on the Puyallup home, damaged a parked car, and destroyed a plastic basketball backboard.
The investigation revealed that WEEKS was the operator of the marijuana “medible” company ‘Cap’n Cosmics. The company had no state license to make marijuana products, and used marketing that mimics the look of the children’s cereal, “Cap’n Crunch.” Even after the explosion at the Puyallup residence, WEEKS continued his hash oil manufacturing at a different location. WEEKS opened the BHO manufacturing operation in an industrial area using a method that could have resulted in a much greater and even more damaging explosion. In all some 1800 pounds of marijuana and marijuana laced food products were seized in the investigation.
The case was investigated by the Puyallup Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The Pierce County Prosecutors Office assisted with the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vince Lombardi and Todd Greenberg.