A woman accused of operating a marijuana honey oil lab that exploded at a Riverside apartment complex, leaving her partner burned, pleaded not guilty Thursday to manufacturing illicit drugs.
The man who allegedly distributed her product pleaded not guilty to selling controlled substances.
Lisa Marie Twyman, 41, and Cutter James Mendonca, 22, were arrested Monday following an investigation into the explosion in the 600 block of Central Avenue, near Canyon Crest Drive.
Twyman’s cohabitant, a 38-year-old Riverside man whose name was not disclosed, suffered extensive burn injuries and is undergoing treatment at Arrowhead Regional Burn Center.
Riverside police detectives are expected to request charges against him, as well, according to Officer Ryan Railsback.
Twyman and Mendonca were arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gail O’Rane, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for March 15 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Twyman is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, and Mendonca is being held on $100,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to Railsback, about 6 a.m. Monday, police and firefighters were sent to the Central Avenue apartment complex to investigate reports of an explosion. Railsback said the building sustained major damage, but the flames were quickly extinguished.
“Evidence of the illegal (honey oil) lab … included empty butane canisters, hash oil extract, marijuana plants and other items used in the manufacturing process,” Railsback said.
The exact trigger for the explosion was not identified, but because the process of making honey oil entails use of butane gas, almost anything flammable can cause an ignition.
Honey oil, also known as “wax” or “hash,” is a liquefied marijuana derivative. Drug lab operators use butane stoves to extract tincture from cannabis plants that can be mixed with anything and bottled.
Numerous explosions and fires have occurred throughout the Inland Empire over the last decade as a result of home-based honey oil manufacturing.
The practice has become so rampant and potentially destructive that the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in 2017 released a series of public service announcements, warning of the dangers and consequences of making honey oil. The series can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fSCMCwmlQw.
According to Railsback, along with Twyman’s apartment, several adjoining units were damaged, and the residents were displaced.
She was taken into custody after taking her partner to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment.
Railsback said Mendonca was detained in the apartment complex parking lot, and during a search of the probationer’s vehicle, officers “located a concealed firearm and several small bags containing narcotics packaged for sale.”
Mendonca has a prior felony conviction for evading arrest, according to court records. Twyman has no documented prior felony convictions.
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