Federal prosecutors have charged two Pierce County men in connection with a hash oil laboratory that exploded May 20 in Puyallup.
The case against Seth Cleek, 31, and Kevin Weeks Jr., 24, was announced Tuesday along with charges against five others for separate hash oil explosions in Bellevue, Kirkland and Seattle.
Officials held a news conference Tuesday in Seattle to discuss the recent rise in hash oil cases.
“These deadly explosions are reckless and preventable acts,” said Matthew Barnes, a special agent in charge for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. “As marijuana cultivation activities increase, explosions will continue.”
Cleek and Weeks are charged with endangering human life while manufacturing a controlled substance, maintaining a drug-involved premises and manufacturing hash oil and marijuana.
They face 35 years in prison if convicted as charged, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Puyallup police were called to Cleek’s rented house in the 1500 block of Shaw Road East after neighbors reported an explosion followed by multiple smaller blasts as hundreds of butane canisters blew up and flew more than 100 feet.
No one was hurt but prosecutors said the illegal activity endangered those who lived in the house, including a 14-month-old baby.
The fire destroyed a pop-up canopy in front of the house where Cleek allegedly extracted hash oil. It also damaged a car parked in the driveway.
Cleek told detectives he was working for Weeks’ company, Cap’n Cosmics, which sold marijuana edibles. The company’s website was taken down after the explosion. Its Facebook page states it sells “EXTREMELY potent medibles” for medical marijuana patients.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Cleek with unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance and first-degree reckless burning.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Maureen Goodman said that even though Cleek faces federal charges, she will continue the local case against him and might file additional charges.
Weeks was charged Tuesday after detectives served search warrants. Details of what they found during the search were not available.
Prosecutors allege Cleek continued to extract hash oil at his home even after the May 20 explosion. Surveillance showed deliveries of pot and butane lighter fluid canisters to Cleek’s house, court records show.
Weeks is believed to have hired several people other than Cleek to produce hash oil.
The other cases announced Tuesday include a Nov. 5 explosion at a Bellevue apartment complex that resulted in two residents shattering bones as they jumped from their units and the death of a former mayor, who broke her pelvis trying to escape.
Two others were charged in a Jan. 1 explosion at the Inglenook apartments in Kirkland and a Jan. 7 explosion at a Seattle home.