2 people charged in opium poppy bust

Two people were arrested Wednesday after a large quantity of the narcotic doda, made from opium poppies, was seized at a Calgary grocery store.

Two people were arrested Wednesday after a large quantity of the narcotic doda, made from opium poppies, was seized at a Calgary grocery store.

Calgary police said tips from the public led them to the Desi Bazaar on 47th Street N.E where  they found what they describe as a significant amount of doda — a derivative of the poppy plant, which is gaining popularity among Indo-Canadians in Calgary.

Police seized:

  • an estimated 60 kilograms of opium poppies (pods and plants).
  • An estimated 13 kilograms of doda (powder form).
  • $10,000 in cash.

The total dollar amount of the seizure is yet to be calculated.

The public alerted police a few months ago that the drug is prevalent in the community, Det. Doug Hudasen said at a news conference.

That prompted the creation of a doda task force, he said, made up of members of Calgary police and other law enforcement agencies, including the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency.

"We learned about this trend, we reacted to this trend and the message we want to get out to people — the citizens of Calgary and of Canada — is that this substance is illegal and people will be dealt with and charged accordingly," Hudasen said.

A man and a woman have been charged with drug trafficking and production, he said.

It's the first known seizure of doda in Calgary.

While doda is not quite as powerful as heroin, Hudasen said, it is still potent and addictive.

Doda is created when the poppy heads are ground and made into a tea. It produces a quick high followed by a sense well-being.  The illegal drug is being sold in flea markets, food shops and flower stores in some northeast Calgary neighbourhoods.

In August 2009, an Edmonton man was charged amid allegations he accepted a package with more than 70 kilograms of dried opium poppy at his grocery store.

"We do believe this is the largest opium poppy seizure in Alberta's history,"  acting Insp. Greg Preston of the organized crime branch of Edmonton Police, said at the time.