Police / Fire

Police find apparent drug lab at garage fire

21-year-old burned in the blast was arrested on various charges

The Hollister Police Department found what it said was an illegal marijuana lab while investigating a suspicious fire on May 2.

That evening, at 6:21 p.m., Hollister Fire Department personnel called the Hollister Police Department to 808 Powell St. to investigate a suspicious fire. The fire department had been called on a report of an explosion and fire at that location. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered there had been a fire in a garage attached to the apartment complex, and a burn victim, Lance Gallo, Jr.  They called police when they found items indicative of a lab explosion, police said in a press release.

Upon inspecting the garage, officers say they found butane, marijuana and other items used to manufacture “butane honey oil” — a form of concentrated cannabis. The building’s fire sprinklers had extinguished the flames.  

Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team (UNET) agents were called out to assist in the investigation. UNET agents obtained a search warrant and seized evidence and disposed of the what the police termed to be "dangerous and potentially deadly products associated with the lab operation."

Gallo, 21, was treated on-scene for second- and third-degree burns before being transported to a Bay Area trauma center.     

Charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, unlawful use of fire, child endangerment and marijuana possession for sales will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, police said. 

In the news release, the police department said it "would like to remind our citizens that manufacturing marijuana oil is not only illegal, but can be extremely dangerous."

Anyone having information on this case is asked to call Officer Esqueda at the Hollister Police Department at 636-4330. Persons wishing to remain anonymous can call the WeTip Hotline at 800-78-CRIME. Information provided to WeTip may qualify for a reward.

BenitoLink Staff