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An investigation of a possible indoor illegal marijuana growing operation led to a major bust at a rural Boulder Creek building this week — and the arrests of two out-of-town men on charges of illegally manufacturing hash oil.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday served a search warrant in the 600 block of Hartman Creek Road.

“Detectives discovered a sophisticated butane honey oil lab inside a specially built outbuilding, along with 28 large volatile butane canisters, 1,759 pounds of cannabis plant material and 136 pounds of cannabis concentrate,” county officials said in a news release. “The cannabis concentrate was valued at more than $2 million.

Cannabis plant bust
1,759 pounds of cannabis plant material and 136 pounds of cannabis concentrate were recovered from Boulder Creek building. Credit: Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office

Hash oil is a cannabis concentrate that is produced by using a combination of butane, heat and pressure. Also known as honey oil, it is used in a variety of cannabis products, including food, drinks and topical ointments.

Since butane is highly flammable, the extraction process can be dangerous; cannabis concentrate can be produced legally but only under strict regulations overseen by government officials.

The Boulder Creek facility “posed a significant safety risk to residents in the area,” county officials said. The county’s Environmental Health Department assisted in dismantling the lab safely and coordinating clean-up.

Christopher Akers, 34, an Oregon resident, and Michael Akers, 43, of the state of Washington, were arrested in connection with the operation of the facility and booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail, officials said.

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