The owner of a Los Angeles-based butane supply company pleaded guilty in a San Diego court Thursday to selling drug paraphernalia after admitting his company illegally sold thousands of butane canisters to smoke shops, knowing some of the butane would be used to illegally manufacture hash oil.
Bosco Kwon, 53, agreed to pay $1,026,614 and forfeit 94,152 canisters of butane. His company, BK Power Imports, Inc., was the nation’s largest supplier of butane specifically designed for use in making hash oil.
In his plea agreement, Kwon admitted the manufacture of hash oil poses a significant risk of fires and explosions.
Kwon’s company sold butane illegally to wholesalers and retailers in San Diego County and throughout the United States and imported more than 350,000 canisters of butane into the country each month, according to the plea agreement.
During the manufacture of hash oil, a marijuana concentrate, butane, which is an odorless, colorless and highly flammable gas, can evaporate out of the substance, collect onto the floor and accumulate to explosive levels without proper ventilation.
“Whatever one believes about marijuana use, the manufacture of hash oil is an extremely dangerous process and puts lives in danger,” said U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “We will do everything we can to safeguard the public.”
Since 2011, 4 deaths and 29 serious injuries in California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington have been attributed to the manufacture of hash oil using Power butane. It has also caused 54 fires.
BK Power Imports and Kown were sued in 2015 because of a fire and explosion that occurred when two people were making hash oil using power butane. One on the people died the other suffered third-degree and full-thickness burns over 40 percent of his body that kept him in an intensive care unit for nearly two months.
“Hash oil manufactured with butane gas has led to an alarming number of explosions and fires in recent years,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego. “HSI is committed to targeting the supply chains where butane gas is sold on the black market for use in hash oil labs. By going after the supply chains and the illicit proceeds, we are able to dismantle the distribution networks, which is a critical step toward shutting down a dangerous epidemic that has put the public’s safety in harm’s way for too long.”
Sentencing is scheduled for April 28, 2017 before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino.