City cops lay first charges for selling poppy-based drug
Staff at a northeast grocery store peddled an illegal opium-based drug, police alleged Wednesday, announcing the first criminal charges laid by Calgary police for trafficking and producing narcotic.
Charges are pending against a middle-aged man and woman after police alleged they bought the drug at Desi Bazaar at 5120 47 St. N.E.
Doda, derived from the opium poppy, which also yields heroin, is made by crushing dried opium poppy pods into a powder which is brewed into a herbal tea.
Calgary police drug unit Staff Sgt. Darren Cave said the case speaks to an emerging nationwide trend, while warning the public that doda, like other street narcotics, is dangerous and addictive.
“The message we want to get out is, this substance is illegal,” Cave said.
It “is no different than selling or buying crack cocaine.”
Officials seized about 60 kg of opium poppies, about 13 kg of powder-form doda and $10,000 in cash at the store.
They did not release a dollar amount for the seizure but said a search of the store yielded evidence it was also being produced there.
Last September, Canada Border Services confiscated about 7.3 tonnes — worth about $14.5 million in street value — of the narcotic pods in two semi trailers in Calgary labelled as carrying “dried grasses,” and “dried flowers.”
While doda — which sells for about $20 an ounce — offers users a quick high followed by a sense of calm, police stress it can lead to severe side-effects and even addiction.
The Calgary police drug unit created a Doda Working Committee made up of members from other police agencies, including the RCMP, and the CBSA to try to get a grip on the situation before it escalates in this city.
Cave said this week’s discovery is likely the tip of the iceberg of the presence of the drug in Calgary.
“From our experience where’s there’s one, there’s more,” he said.
Last year police in Edmonton found about 73 kg of the drug in an east Indian grocery store.
By NADIA MOHARIB, CALGARY SUN
Last Updated: 3rd February 2010, 6:16pm
There is video news footage embedded in the story HERE
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