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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Man Sentenced to 10 Years Prison for Illegal Concentrated Cannabis Operation

Santa Rosa, CA  –  August 22, 2017  –  Butane canistersDefendant Thomas Jan Warren, 64 years old of Forestville, was sentenced today before the Honorable Dana Simonds to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison after he pled guilty in May to manufacturing concentrated cannabis using the volatile substance butane, and admitted enhancements that his manufacturing site was less than 300 feet from a school, as well as a prior conviction for possessing cocaine base with the intent to sell.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This defendant had a very sophisticated manufacturing operation that was completely concealed from the public.  There was a very real danger to public safety here that was a direct result of this defendant’s actions, and it is sheer luck that many people in the community were not injured or killed as a result.” 

Warren’s 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.  Workers inside the building were actively using butane to make hash oil when the flames broke out. The workers tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire and left the structure without notifying the fire department.  Santa Rosa Fire Department was notified by a call from an employee of the North Valley School that there was a structure fire next door.  The distance to the school was later measured at 105 feet.  

Assistant Santa Rosa Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal addressed Judge Simonds at the sentencing hearing and related the dangers his department faced when responding to this fire.  While on their way to the building firefighters were alerted that Warren’s painting business A-1 Top Quality Paints was housed there.  They prepared an aggressive entry strategy to put out the fire thinking that most painting contractors don’t possess items that pose a threat to first responders.  Firefighters used a circular saw to cut through the locked metal roll-up door, only to be met by a false wall.  They then attacked the false wall using a chainsaw to force entry into the fiery building.  Once inside, firefighters discovered that a very large and sophisticated hash oil extraction laboratory was hidden in the back of the paint store.  After the fire was extinguished, firefighters discovered that the chain saw cut within an inch of several cases (96 cans per case) of butane canisters.  Lowenthal noted, “We were very lucky that firefighters were not seriously injured or killed while responding to this fire.”

SRPD narcotics officers subsequently obtained a search warrant and found 9,600 unused butane canisters, more than 3,000 used butane canisters, 1,200 pounds of marijuana and approximately 54 pounds of processed hash oil among thousands of other items used exclusively to manufacture hash oil.

In handing down the maximum sentence, Judge Simonds referred to the defendant’s conduct as a very serious threat to public safety and dismissed his contention that he was motivated by a desire to produce concentrated cannabis to be used by cancer patients.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Matt HubleyDetective Gillette of SRPD narcotics division headed the investigation.

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Joe Langenbahn
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Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
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Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.466524, -122.726273
 

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