Butler Township Police are announcing the first phase in break of a marijuana manufacturing operation that was being conducted inside a Butler Township home.

On the evening of February 18, 2015, Butler Township Police executed a search warrant at 11 Mink Springs Court in Beech Mountain Lakes. The warrant was issued after an agent with the Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole provided information concerning the resident there growing marijuana.

Police found that the entire house had been utilized to grow marijuana and been stripped of furnishings and carpeting. There were more than 160 plants found growing inside the residence, some as tall as 8 feet. More than 50 “grow lights” were also seized, as well as sophisticated ventilation and electrical hook-ups. Approximately 5 pounds of processed marijuana was found.

Marijuana grow operations have been found to be a health hazard due to contamination from pesticides and fertilizers. In addition, due to the increased moisture, mold and spore growth are common. As a result, Butler Township Police called the Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Lab Response team was summoned to the scene. The team is equipped with special knowledge and equipment to safely remove the evidence from the home.  

The investigation also revealed that electricity was being stolen. Some of the growing equipment inside the home was being operated by the stolen electricity. Electrical wiring, which bypassed the protections of the homes circuit breaker, was punched though walls and had the energized connections exposed. An investigation by PPL Utilities estimated the theft of electricity at $37,506 dollars.

Police tracked down tenant of the rented property. As a result, an arrest warrant was issued on March 2, 2015 for Daniel I. Lopez, age 36. Lopez was tracked down in Florida with the help of the United States Marshals Office. He was charged with violating state parole conditions on previous charges. He is in the process of being extradited back to Pennsylvania to face the current charges.

Lopez is charged by Butler Township Police with manufacturing a controlled substance, theft of services, criminal mischief – all felonies and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police note that during the investigation additional pounds of marijuana and firearms were seized from other locations outside Butler Township. Those undisclosed locations are also part of a continuing investigation.

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