Raid nets 226
opium poppies
on Big Isle

KAILUA-KONA » Police seized 226 opium poppy plants at a residential lot in Ocean View subdivision south of Kailua-Kona in July, Lt. Mitchell Kanehailua told the Hawaii County Council this week.

The plants are so unusual on the Big Island that officers eradicating marijuana plants initially walked right past them, thinking they were ornamental plants, Kanehailua said.

The only previous seizure of poppies that officers remember was in the 1980s. Those plants were saved as samples, he said.

None of the poppies had flowers, but they had bulbous green seed pods, which are cut to allow their juices to ooze and harden into opium. Only a few of the pods were cut, Kanehailua said.

What the growers intended to do with them is not clear. There were no pipes for smoking opium, which has to be refined before it can be smoked. And there was no equipment for turning opium into heroin, Kanehailua said.

Police are still looking for a man and a woman in connection with the seizure, he said. Anyone with information on the poppy crop is asked to call Kanehailua at 326-4646, ext. 226.

During the same operation, police seized 670 marijuana plants at the Ocean View house, part of about 7,000 marijuana plants seized during an eradication operation at the time.

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