Authorities in Arizona busted an alleged drug house producing cannabis-infused snacks, modeled after Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids and Wheat Thins, as well as vaping cartridges and other marijuana products.
Among the items seized by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office at the alleged drug lab was 300 pounds of marijuana, as well as semi-automatic weapons, four handguns, 1,100 THC vape cartridges and $3,000 in cash. All told, the seized property was worth about $380,000, according to the sheriff's office.
The most expensive item seized: eight jars of narcotic distillate worth about $300,000.
Tucker Reese and Kolby Stevens, both 23, were arrested following the Sept. 12 bust in Phoenix. They have both been charged with sale of narcotic drugs, possession of narcotic drugs, possession of manufacturing equipment for narcotic drugs, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of a weapon in a drug offense -- all felonies.
The sheriff's office singled out the vape cartridges, especially in the wake of the current epidemic of illnesses in the country.
"These cartridges have been located throughout the country and have been associated with recent vaping deaths, were being manufactured in the residence," the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Wednesday announcing the arrests. "Base (sic) on the equipment and the products located inside the residence, detectives believe this location was an apparent Closed Loop BHO Manufacturing Lab."
The Food and Drug Administration has specifically warned consumers against using THC-infused vaping products.
"In many cases of illness reported by the states, patients have acknowledged recent use of THC-containing vaping products while speaking to healthcare personnel, or in follow-up interviews by health department staff," according to an FDA release from Sept. 6.
In addition to the THC vaping cartridges, the pair was apparently extracting cannabis and adding it to snack food to sell. Among the products were "Weedos," "Sour Dab Kids" and "Weed Thins."
Police said they were tipped off to the drug house, and then conducted surveillance on the residence for days before getting a warrant.
"We are focused on protecting the young adults in our community,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said. "We will not tolerate criminal activity targeting adolescence for profit and at the expense of health."
The sheriff's office also seized a boat and an ATV from the residence.
A vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana failed in Arizona in 2016, though users would only have been able to possess an ounce legally. The 300 pounds found by authorities in the Phoenix home is 4,800 ounces.