CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Undercover officers executed a search warrant Tuesday morning at a large poppy plant grow operation in Catawba County.
Poppy plants are used to create opium, which is used to make drugs such as heroin. It is illegal to grow poppy plants in North Carolina.
Deputies estimate that the plants found near Claremont are worth a half-billion dollars.
There were eight to 10 deputies and SBI agents Tuesday morning wearing protective clothing to pull hundreds of plants out of the ground at the home on Poultry Drive.
"The poppy plant does produce opium,” Catawba County Capt. Jason Reid said. “We have some plants that have scored, which is allowing the drug itself, the opium, to pour out of the poppy plant."
Deputies arrested Cody Xiong and charged him with manufacturing and trafficking by possession.
Deputies said they have never had an opium bust before in Catawba County.
"Poppy plants in Catawba County and North Carolina is something new to the area, and they're planted in rows of other vegetables being grown here. He knew what he was growing," Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said.
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