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Police: SSU students ran home drug lab

Police found a makeshift hash oil lab in a backyard shed of a Rohnert Park home rented by four Sonoma State University students, a Rohnert Park sergeant said Wednesday.

Officers suspect that for some time the four have been making the potent hash oil and selling marijuana from the “S” section residence.

Officers arrested the students Tuesday afternoon at their San Mateo Court home, in east Rohnert Park a few blocks off County Club Drive.

Hash oil labs are notoriously unstable and have been the cause of fires and explosions at several Sonoma County residences, according to police and firefighters.

“We've had several in our city in years past explode,” said Rohnert Park police Sgt. Jeff Nicks.

Nicks Wednesday said neighbors liked the four college students, three of which he believed were business majors. He said they had no idea the reported drug sales and manufacturing were underway and praised the police work that resulted in getting “a potentially dangerous situation out of this nice neighborhood.”

The investigation started Tuesday afternoon with a 3:45 p.m. call to police from bank employees.

They said a suspicious-acting man was walking around the Chase branch and in and out of the bank lobby, not conducting business, Nicks said.

Officers contacted Benjamin Lalor, 22, in the parking lot of the Rohnert Park Expressway branch. They found suspected drug packaging materials in his car, Nicks said.

Lalor agreed to take officers to his house for further investigation. One roommate was on criminal probation and police were allowed to search his room and common areas of the home and yard, leading to further discoveries, including the lab, Nicks said.

They found about three pounds of processed marijuana for sale and miscellaneous prescription medications.

Lalor, James Taylor, 22, Kyle McReynolds, 21, and Jeffrey Moeser, 22, were arrested on suspicion of manufacturing hash oil and having marijuana for sale.

McReynolds and Lalor remained in the Sonoma County Jail Wednesday in lieu of $100,000 bail. Lalor also was suspected of having brass knuckles and a throwing star, both classified as illegal weapons.

Taylor and Moeser were released after posting bail, according to jail records.

(You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.)

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