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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Authorities in New York seized more than $9 million worth of opium hidden inside a shipment of porcelain figurines last month at John F. Kennedy International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday.

    The seizure happened on January 21, the agency said in a press release.
    More than 30 porcelain cats were discovered in a shipment from Thailand, labeled "plastic samples" and despite an X-ray scan that yielded nothing suspicious, authorities chose to open the cargo and crack one of the figurines open, according to John Saleh, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    During the inspection, authorities discovered a total of 205 pounds of a brown, tar-like substance that turned out to be raw opium, mostly used to make heroin, Saleh said. The agency estimated the value of the opium at more than $9 million.

    Saleh couldn't comment on the exact source of the package but did say it was intended for an address in the greater New York area.

    "Most times we find cocaine and heroin," Saleh said. "Opium was kind of unusual to find, especially in that quantity."

    Federal authorities said there have been no arrests, and the investigation is continuing.


    From Julia Talanova, CNN
    February 18, 2011

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/02/17/new.york.opium.seized/

Comments

  1. Moving Pictures
    That's so weird that they'd ship opium instead of heroin. They could have gotten much more money for the heroin and it would have taken up much less space. Maybe this was just for a niche market of certain customers? A particular group of Thai Americans that wanted opium?
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ There is quite a demand in certain areas for opium in the US. Predominantly it is in the large populations from SE Asia, But there are quite a few critters who love opium and yet would not touch heroin...either due to a stigma, purity issues, or other reasons.

    There are also quite a few critters that like a dash of opium with their cannabis at times...
  3. Moving Pictures
    Oh, yes, my friend has stubmled across opium a couple times but for some reason assumed it was home grown. Didn't seem worth the risk to import bulky opium when you could import heroin instead. But of course, there is a market for it. My friend mostly heard about it being common with the festival circut/rainbow family types.

    He once picked up a guy hitch-hiking from a festival in MO (can't remember the name but there's a story on here about the place getting raided) a few years back and they went back to my friends house and smoked a few grams off foil. It was quite a nice surprise. Friend gave him about a 30 mile ride up to the interstate and gave him a few ham and cheese sandwhiches, a couple sodas, a couple bottles of water, and a few cans of beer and the guy was more than pleased. Seemed like a great deal for my friend. The hitch-hiker was a rainbow type, though I don't know if he was an offical member (if there is such a thing). Real cool guy.
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