bc-091119-doda-powder

Some of the doda powder seized by RCMP in Surrey, B.C. The addictive substance is mixed with water as a tea. ((RCMP))

Police in Surrey, B.C., say they have busted a large-scale drug lab in a shopping complex. The lab was producing "doda," a highly addictive substance made by grinding the seed pods of opium poppies and brewing the powder as a tea.

Investigators arrested four men and seized opium poppy pods, blenders and ground material in baggies, according to Sgt. Roger Morrow of the RCMP's Surrey detachment.

Doda is gaining popularity in the South Asian community.

Its consumption is reported to be particularly prevalent and common in the truck driving and taxi industry, Morrow said.

Two years ago, B.C. NDP MLA Harry Bains called on the provincial solicitor general and police to take action.

'Anyone can walk in and buy it'

Many South Asians are concerned that doda is openly being sold in grocery stores, Bains told CBC News Thursday.

"Finally we will [be] able to deal with this very dangerous substance that is available freely in the market in Surrey and in other Lower Mainland areas," said Bains.

"It is highly addictive. Anyone can walk in and buy it. Even minors can buy it."

Surrey RCMP will now forward the seized product to a Health Canada lab to confirm the presence of illegal drugs, Morrow said.

Police agencies in Ontario and Alberta, along with agents of the Canada Border Services Agency, have also made seizures of the drug.