DEA sees rise in hash oil explosions in San Diego County

At least 3 significant explosions in past year

SAN DIEGO - Drug Enforcement Administration officials say they are seeing an increase in hash oil explosions in San Diego.

In the past 12 months, law enforcement has responded to three significant hash oil explosions, including one in January at the Heritage Inn that burned three people.

"Had it been early in the morning or later in the evening, we could have been talking about a number of people who were fatalities or a good deal more casualties associated with that explosion," said Patrick Kelly, acting assistant special agent in charge from the DEA's Narcotic Task Force.

Kelly said the significant explosions include the one at Heritage Inn near Sea World, as well as two others reported in Spring Valley.

The DEA also found at least six other hash oil extraction labs locally, but fortunately no explosions were reported.

DEA officials say the main profit is money, with a gram of hash oil yielding anywhere between $30 to $80 on the streets. Kelly said the availability of the process on Internet sites like YouTube adds to the problem.

"What they do not provide you with is an indication of just how dangerous that procedure can be," Kelly warned.

"We've had a consistent message from the marijuana community over the last several years that, in essence, says, 'Hey, marijuana, it's medicine, it cures every illness," Kelly added.

Kelly said he believes that message contributes to increase usage rates, increase addition rates and an increase in demand.

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