Santa Rosa, CA – May 17, 2017 – Defendant
Thomas Jan Warren, 63 years old of Forestville, pleaded guilty yesterday in
front of the Honorable Judge Dana Simmonds to Manufacturing Concentrated
Cannabis using the volatile substance butane, as well as admitting an
enhancement that his manufacturing site was less than 300 feet from a school,
and a prior conviction for possessing cocaine base with the intent to sell.
Attorney Ravitch stated, “As this state moves toward legal recognition of
recreational cannabis, it is incumbent on producers to understand their
responsibilities under the law. We will continue to aggressively hold
those people responsible that put our community and our environment in danger.”
illegal operation came to light on the afternoon of July 19, 2016 when the
commercial building he leased, located off Piner Road at 3158 Condo Court,
caught fire. At the time the flames broke-out, workers inside the
building were actively using butane to make hash oil. Although the
workers tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire, they left the building
without notifying the Santa Rosa Fire Department. Subsequently, an
employee of the North Valley School, which sat 105 feet away, alerted the fire
department about the ongoing structure fire.
quickly realized that the building was also the retail office for Warren’s
other business, A-1 Top Quality Paints. Fire personnel made entry and
noticed extensive burn damage inside the structure and worked quickly to
extinguish the fire. Firefighters also noticed that the paint store was
simply the front room of the large commercial space, with the hash oil
operation being hidden behind a false wall and taking up the majority of the
building’s 8000 square feet.
alerted law enforcement to the presence of a massive stockpile of unused Butane
canisters, including a box with 96 unused canisters partially burning behind
the wall where firefighters were forcing entry.
Police Department narcotics officers obtained a search warrant and located 9,600
unused butane canisters, more than 3,000 used butane canisters, 1,500 pounds of
marijuana and approximately 54 pounds of processed hash oil, in addition to
thousands of other items used exclusively to manufacture hash oil.
Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said, “The BHO Lab on Condo Court was a
classic example of the dangers of illegal operations. Firefighters
responded to what appeared to be a routine fire in a commercial building and
quickly realized it was anything but routine. Thousands of butane
canisters sat like ticking time bombs as the firefighters worked to locate and
extinguish the fire. We were very fortunate that we were able to stop the
fire before explosions injured or killed people from the school next door, or
returns to court for sentencing on July 25, where he faces a maximum sentence
of 10 years in prison.
The case was
prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Matt Hubley. Detective Pat
Gillette of the SRPD narcotics division headed the investigation.