Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Feds Find Plantation in Midst of California Forest 7/25/03

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Poppies are popping up all over. The Associated Press reported that federal officials had discovered and seized some 40,000 opium poppies growing deep in California's Sierra National Forest on July 16. Three men dressed in camouflage who had been slitting the poppies to obtain opium fled into the woods, said Forest Service spokesperson Sue Exline, adding that authorities may have found one of the men. "He had cuts all over his face and the brown residue all over his hands," Exline said. "He told officers he had been camping in the area and his friends had left him." He could be charged with possessing opium, a felony.

The poppies were found spread over two acres at the 3,000 foot level of the forest in an area that had burned two years ago. The area has been a popular marijuana cultivation zone, authorities said, but they were unaware of any previous attempts to cultivate opium there. "This is a pretty alarming development," said Matt Mathes, another forest service spokesman. "The environmental and public safety problems posed by marijuana are bad enough. I would think this would be worse."

The plants would have yielded about 40 pounds of raw opium or, with further processing, about four pounds of heroin. DEA officials speculated to the AP that the plantation could be a sign that Mexican heroin traffickers are following in the footsteps of their pot-smuggling compatriots, who have in recent years set up marijuana plantations in remote US national forests.

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Issue #297, 7/25/03 Editorial: Follow the Undercurrents | Bad Neighbor Policy: Learn All About the Drug War in Latin America through DRCNet's New Book Offer | Historic Medical Marijuana Vote in House -- Support Rises, But Not Yet Enough | House Defeats Effort to Divert Colombia Military Aid, Barely | DRCNet in Action: Grassroots Action on Medical Marijuana and Colombia Votes | DRCNet Interview: Baldomero Cáceres, Advisor to the Confederation of Peruvian Coca Growers | Unapproved Vancouver Safe Injection Site Gets Unwanted Police Attention | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Afghanistan at a Record Pace This Year | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- In Welsh Fields, the Poppies Grew | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Feds Find Plantation in Midst of California Forest | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Wisconsin Weedstock Wins Appeals Court Victory | Newsbrief: Australian Safe Injection Room a Success, Say Evaluators | Newsbrief: Spanish Government Okays Heroin Maintenance in Catalonia | Newsbrief: Dr. Strangelove, Please Call Home -- Connecticut Scientists Compile Marijuana DNA Database to Track Trafficking | Newsbrief: Michigan Lawmakers Introduce Anti-Methamphetamine Package, Includes Life in Prison for 1,000 Grams | The Reformer's Calendar

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