The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office seized an entire field of poppy plants Tuesday, with an estimated value of $500 million.
Authorities admit that’s a rough estimate on the value, because the plants still need to be weighed.
The plants are used in the manufacturing of opium and growing them is far from legal. The field was about an acre located near Claremont, a Catawba County town about 40 miles north of Charlotte. It has a population of about 1,300 people.
“This is the second one in the nation,” Sheriff Coy Reid told the Hickory Daily Record. “One of our narcotics investigators came to the house looking for something else. When he knocked on the door, the guys said ‘I guess you’re here about the opium.'”
The plants were in rows, like corn, in a field behind a home on Poultry Road.
One person in a nearby home was charged in connection with the field, the Daily Record reported.
Catawba County Sheriff’s Office deputies got a tip last week and were able to obtain a search warrant, reported Charlotte TV station WBTV. The station identified Cody Xiong as the suspect arrested and charged with manufacture and trafficking by possession.
The sheriff says only one other opium poppy plant field has been in the United States this year, which was in California.
Plants were being pulled up Tuesday and deputies say they are still investigating.
Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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