Bulloch County Drug Suppression Team agents found five marijuana plants at a U.S. 80 East location in Brooklet Tuesday, but they were more interested in the one-acre field of poppies nearby.
These aren’t the garden-variety poppies, but the type of poppy opiates are derived from, said Bulloch County Sheriff’s Capt. Rick Rountree.
Woodson Oglesby Hannon, 57, of U.S. 80 East, Brooklet, planted over 140,000 poppy plants and was “in fact using the poppies to produce illegal substances,” said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson.
There are several different types of poppies, but only one kind, the Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is used to extract opium, according to Wikipedia.org.
Rountree said the poppies in the Brooklet-area field are definitely “the illegal kind.”
Acting on a tip, drug suppression team agents launched an investigation regarding the suspicious field of flowers. They found five sizable marijuana plants, but the one-acre field filled with poppies was more intriguing. The investigation culminated Tuesday with Hannon’s arrest and the destruction of the field.
“The poppy plant, commonly grown in Asia, is grown to produce a substance which is the basis for all opiate-type painkillers,” Anderson said. “Morphine and heroin are derivatives of the substance produced by the poppy.”
By taping off a 10’ by 10’ section of the field, then counting the number of poppy plants in that section, investigators estimated the field contained about 143,000 plants, he said.
After gathering evidence they needed, investigators had excavators come in and scoop up the plants, hauling them away in dump trucks, he said.
While Hannon is currently only charged with manufacturing marijuana, additional charges are pending regarding the poppies, he said.
Rountree said the poppies in Brooklet were the kind that produced Schedule II morphine. Some of the plants were sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lab for testing to determine the potency, he said.
Anderson said Bulloch County Drug Suppression Team members were assisted by the Statesboro Police Department Crime Suppression Team Unit, Georgia State Patrol, and Bulloch County Correctional Institute, as well as private citizens Ellis Wood and Brian Kent.
“Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Capt. Rountree at (912) 764-1786,” Anderson said.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.