Opium Poppies in the San Francisco Bay Area
AUG 13--When one thinks of opium fields, thoughts turn to remote and exotic locations such as Afghanistan and Thailand. However, in July 2004, the San Jose Resident Office (SJRO) looked no further than a few miles south of the city limits and seized over 19,000 opium plants which were growing in a farmer’s field. This was probably the largest opium grow seizure in Santa Clara County history and was the largest such seizure in California since over 40,000 opium plants were seized from a clandestine grow site in the Sierra National Forest near Fresno in June 2003.
The investigation began when a former SJRO task force officer, now back in uniformed patrol with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (SCCSO), responded to an anonymous complaint of a suspected outdoor opium grow on Santa Teresa Boulevard in San Martin, California. When the deputy looked out the window of his patrol cruiser, he was astonished to see several thousand square feet of mature opium poppies just a few dozen yards from the highway and not far from a new development of $2 million dollar homes. The former task force officer then contacted the DEA SJRO and later a sample poppy plant was collected for testing.
The DEA Western Regional Laboratory was contacted and they provided expedited testing for the sample poppy and the plants were confirmed as Papaver Somniferum, which is illegal to grow in the United States.
A federal Search Warrant was obtained and on 07/22/2004, under the hot South Bay sun, the search warrant was served without incident. The illegal plants were uprooted and disposed of according to DEA guidelines. DEA Agents from the San Jose and San Francisco Offices participated, along with Deputies from the SCCSO.
For further information contact Special Agent Richard Meyer at 415-436-7900.