Chinese grandmothers arrested for selling opium poppies

Plants that could be used to make heroin allegedly on sale in market as wild herbs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 5:01pm

Two farmers in central China accused of growing opium poppies and selling them as wild herbs have been arrested by police, according to a news website report.

Two elderly women in Shenqiu county, Henan province were selling the poppies for just 2 yuan (30 US cents) a bunch at a rural market when police came across them on Sunday, according to news portal Thecover.cn.

The plain-clothes policemen offered to buy the poppies and then asked the women to bring them to the farm, where they saw a large field covered by poppy plants.

The women are alleged to have cultivated around 2,300 poppy plants in total. The plants were confiscated and the women detained.

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Cultivating poppy plants without a licence constitutes a crime in China, as they can be used to make illegal drugs such as opium, morphine and heroin.

People caught growing up to 500 plants without a licence could be fined up to 500 (US$79) or placed in detention for up to five days, if the crime is not deemed to be to serious.

Those caught growing more could face sentences of between five and 10 years depending on the quantities involved.

Local police have detained more than eight suspects since they started a campaign against illegal cultivation of poppies in March.