South Nevada County man facing charges in 2 honey oil cases
November 21, 2017
A Nevada County judge held a South County resident on two felony and three misdemeanor charges after he was arrested twice this year by narcotics detectives serving search warrants on a suspected butane honey oil operation.
Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven found enough evidence to move forward with all five charges after hearing the preliminary evidence against Tyrel Collin Welstad, 31, on Tuesday.
Welstad will be formally arraigned on Dec. 11.
Nevada County Sheriff's Det. Steve Stanley testified that he was the case agent for the Narcotics Task Force during the searches on April 25 and Aug. 1 of the property where Welstad was living, in the 10000 block of Combie Road.
According to Stanley, Welstad told him detectives might find "a little bit of crystal (meth), and some dab or wax (concentrated cannabis)."
Welstad admitted to manufacturing butane honey oil, Stanley said, calling it a hobby more than a business.
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"He said he would accept donations from friends," the detective testified.
Welstad could not provide a number of customers, but told Stanley he had advertised on Craigslist for a while.
Stanley detailed the items found on the property during the first warrant search in April, which included multiple structures. At the time of Welstad's arrest, Lt. Bill Smethers said he had "a sophisticated system for making butane honey oil."
Detectives found more than $5,000 in cash, two rifles, and suspected methamphetamine in the main bedroom of the residence, as well as multiple dishes with honey oil residue, Stanley said.
They also found six pounds of marijuana in the house, he said.
In a garage and shop, searchers located two vacuum purge ovens and "quite a bit" of marijuana shake — 550 pounds total — as well as one of the largest separators Stanley said he had ever seen. They also found filled butane canisters and empty canisters inside trash bags.
The detective testified that narcotics detectives typically would take every dish or container with honey oil residue; they do not take empty butane cans, although they do photograph them, he said.
When asked if they took all the marijuana, he responded, "We removed all that we found."
Stanley testified that he authored the second search warrant in August, after deputies had responded to an incident at Welstad's residence and interviewed a woman there.
He said the search uncovered multiple items in the residence with honey oil residue and a trash bag containing 11 pounds of marijuana, as well as more methamphetamine.
A sheriff's deputy found a tote covered with camouflage netting on a trail near the residence that contained items used to manufacture butane honey oil, Stanley said. He said detectives also located more butane canisters, as well as some items in the shop — clamps, extraction tubes and a purge pump, that had not been there in April.
During cross-examination by defense attorney Stephen Munkelt, Stanley said detectives did a walk-through of the searched sites before leaving, adding, "If we had found anything we missed, we would have grabbed it."
Munkelt attempted to cast doubt on some of the evidence seized during the second search, arguing not enough was found to prove additional manufacturing took place after the first search in April.
Some random items were found, he argued, some of which were found in locations that had not been thoroughly searched the first time.
Munkelt told Sloven none of the items found in August were used to manufacture honey oil, an assertion disputed by Deputy District Attorney James Morris, who pointed to a hot plate, digital scales and marijuana, as well as butane.
After reviewing the evidence, Sloven found sufficient cause to hold Welstad on one felony count of manufacturing butane honey oil and misdemeanor counts of possessing marijuana for sale and possessing a controlled substance in connection with the first warrant search in April. He will also face a felony count of manufacturing butane honey oil and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance as a result of the August warrant search.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.