Assault rifle, drugs seized after fire at suspected Truckee honey oil lab

Alan Riquelmy
Nicholas McCauley
Submitted to The Union |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Authorities say a trailer fire Saturday in Truckee led to the discovery of a suspected butane honey oil lab, along with an assault rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and other weapons.

Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Nicholas McCauley, 33, of Penn Valley, and Julie Cannon, 27, of Grass Valley, after they found the suspected lab, syringes and an AR-15, a release states.

McCauley faces charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a large capacity magazine, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and committing a felony while armed, reports state.

McCauley remained in custody Monday afternoon on $100,000 bond, authorities said.

Cannon, who has since made her $1,000 bond, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, the release states.

According to authorities, Truckee Fire Protection District officials at 6:15 a.m. Saturday responded to a trailer fire in the 10000 block of Hirschdale Road, near the intersection of Interstate 80 and Glenshire Drive in eastern Truckee.

They discovered what appeared to be several items related to a butane honey oil lab after extinguishing the blaze, which was possibly caused by a small space heater.

Detectives searched the trailer after getting a search warrant, finding unused butane canisters, suspected marijuana and two magazines for an AR-15. Several syringes were in Cannon’s purse, reports state.

Authorities say they found an AR-15, a loaded .45-caliber pistol and a loaded .20-gauge shotgun in a vehicle at the scene. A sawed-off shotgun also was found.

Making hash oil, or hashish, has reportedly become common in recent years in Northern California among marijuana users looking for stronger THC content.

The process involves using butane fuel to cook low-quality marijuana into what eventually becomes a much stronger version of the drug.

“The medical marijuana community might not like or agree with the analogy, but BHO (butane honey oil) is to marijuana what crack is to cocaine,” former TPD Capt. Rob Leftwich said in a 2014 story after a hash-oil explosion leveled a Truckee home. “Putting the debate about medical use aside, there is no argument that the BHO extraction process is incredibly dangerous…”

Alan Riquelmy is a staff writer with The Union newspaper, a sister paper of the Sierra Sun that serves Nevada City, Grass Valley and other communities in the Sierra Foothills. Sierra Sun Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

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