Deputies and detectives raided a Potter Valley home Tuesday and found it converted into an elaborate, explosive hash oil lab capable of making large amounts of concentrated cannabis, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies arrested Joseph Scorese, 30, of Lakeport, and Joseph Loren, 36, of Willits. The search turned up 48.3 pounds of concentrated cannabis, valued on the street at $770,000, and 1,150 pounds of cannabis, officials said in a news release Wednesday.
“That is probably the largest, most sophisticated (butane hash oil) lab I’ve seen in my career,” said Lake County sheriff’s narcotics Sgt. Luke Bingham, a 20-year law enforcement officer with 10 years in narcotics.
The suspects were at the property, in the 6600 block of rural Highway 20, when about 10 investigators from the Lake County sheriff’s narcotics bureau and the Mendocino County sheriff’s marijuana and major crimes task force arrived about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday with a search warrant.
Officials estimated the equipment in the 1,300-square-foot home to be worth more than $250,000. Five large cylinders holding hundreds of pounds of explosive chemicals for hash oil production sat in the living room.
They also found a second, smaller lab, using alcohol extraction to make concentrated cannabis, ledgers showing more than $100,000 in sales and signs that leftover chemicals had been dumped outside.
Investigators spent about nine hours documenting and dismantling the volatile lab.
A 2017 Jeep Rubicon and $5,700 in cash were seized and may be kept by the agencies if connected to the suspected drug operation. The two men were arrested on suspicion of making drugs using a chemical process, and possessing marijuana for sale. They were booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with bail set at $50,000 each. Narcotics detectives still are investigating, Bingham said.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter@rossmannreport.