Doda drug bust in Peel Region
The seizure of $2.5-million worth of a drug popular in the Punjabi community led to the arrest of a Brampton man, police said.
Nearly a year after Peel Regional Police swept down on 22 people in raids at flower and meat shops west of Toronto, an investigation targeting the same drug — doda, or dode in its plural form — led to the execution of three search warrants Monday, police said.
The warrants were carried out at a Mississauga storage facility and homes in Brampton and Toronto “after a lengthy investigation,” police said Wednesday. Boxes containing about 1,280 kilos of doda — worth more than $2.5 million — was seized, according to investigators.
Bhagat Singh, 46, was charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. He’s scheduled to appear in court April 22.
Last year, 21 residents from Brampton and another person from Toronto were charged with various trafficking offences as part of a crackdown on doda. Flower and meat shops were raided in Brampton and Mississauga.
In that case, police allegedly seized 432 kilos of suspected dode and 256 boxes of opium poppy heads, valued by police at more than $1.7 million.
Doda is an addictive opiate derived from dried poppy flowers. It is legal in Punjab and became so popular in shops around Peel Region in recent years that some businesses started making home deliveries, said Rajinder Saini, editor-in-chief of Parvasi Weekly in Mississauga and host of Parvasi Radio.
Users believe the drug will keep them awake and increase their sexual performance, Saini said.
As many as seven years ago, one dried-out poppy would sell for 50¢ in Peel shops. As more people became addicted, the prices went up to $1, then $2 and beyond. Sellers began grinding the flowers up and selling them in doses for users to drink with water or tea, Saini said.
“People who come from Punjab, they’re already aware of this kind of drug,” Saini said. “Secondly, it’s very cheap and the third thing was it’s very safe to use it — it was not under the Criminal Code (until recently).”
Though media outlets have put the spotlight on the drug over the last couple years, Saini said he hasn’t seen a big change in the number of people using it.
“Those people who are addicted, they are still using it,” he said. “It’s very, very harmful ... It goes into your body, into your liver, into your kidney. It’s not digested. It remains there for a long time.”
By TAMARA CHERRY, TORONTO SUN
Last Updated: March 17, 2010 11:13pm