Drug Maker Pleads No Contest to Apartment Fire Charges

Defendant’s Butane Honey Oil Operation Likely Caused Ellwood Beach Drive Explosion

Antonio McBride Villasana, the man who’s concentrated cannabis “honey oil” operation most likely caused an explosion and fire at a Goleta apartment in July 2014, recently pleaded no contest to charges related to the incident. Those charges included two felonies — arson of an inhabited residence and manufacturing of a controlled substance — and one misdemeanor count of child endangerment, related to a neighbor’s child.

Antonio McBride Villasana pleaded no contest last week to charges related to a July 21, 2014 apartment explosion and fire on Ellwood Beach Drive.
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Antonio McBride Villasana pleaded no contest last week to charges related to a July 21, 2014 apartment explosion and fire on Ellwood Beach Drive.

In a Thursday press release, the District Attorney’s Office said Villasana — who “suffered serious burns” in the July 21, 2014 apartment fire — was sentenced to 180 days in County Jail and five years felony probation. He was ordered to pay restitution for damages caused by the explosion and fire and to register as an arsonist for the rest of his life. According to the DA’s Office, the county fire department investigator “concluded that the explosion likely resulted from the flammable butane gas, which collected inside the walls of the apartment and ignited when it encountered an ignition source.”

Butane gas is often used as a solvent to extract much-coveted hash oil, concentrated THC also known as “honey oil” and “wax,” from marijuana. It’s a risky process that has garnered local authorities’ attention in the past few years due to its delicate margin of error. In Santa Barbara County, “Those who manufacture Butane Honey Oil may be prosecuted for numerous drug-related charges, as well as ‘strike’ offenses, including arson, if the manufacturing results in a fire or explosion,” stated District Attorney Joyce Dudley in the press release.

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