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Customs Thailand Seizes 170 Tons of Opium Poppy Seeds

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The seizure came after customs officials, narcotics suppression police and port officials inspected six cargo containers. The products, en route from Pakistan to Myanmar, were declared as quinoa seeds.

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Customs Thailand has seized 170 tons of opium poppy seeds, which were being sent from Pakistan to Myanmar. They had a face value of US$820,000 at Laem Chabang port, in Chonburi, Thailand.

The opium poppy seeds were seized because they contained a Category 5 narcotic substance, said Customs Department chief Krisada Chinavicharana. He announced the seizure at a briefing with officials of Laem Chabang port and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board on Friday.

The seizure came after customs officials, narcotics suppression police and port officials inspected six cargo containers. The products, en route from Pakistan to Myanmar, were declared as quinoa seeds.

The inspection found that the 6,799 sacks, weighing 169,800 kilograms, were opium poppy seeds.

Opium Poppy Yields

Opium poppy yields also vary based on growing conditions, 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of poppies typically produce between 17.6 and 33 lbs. (8 to 15 kilograms) of raw opium.

Estimated yields of heroin from raw opium are between 6 percent and 10 percent. An acre of poppies can yield a little more than 13 lbs. (6 kg) of raw opium and 1.3 lbs. (0.6 kg) of heroin in a full growing season.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that there are also more than 690,00 acres (280,000 ha) of land under cultivation for opium poppies worldwide. Approximately 330 tons (300 metric tons) of heroin is produced.

Growing the Opium Poppy

It’s undeniably illegal to grow opium poppies with the intent to make, heroin or any other intoxicating substance. The processing itself is not challenging technically, though it does involve more labor.

The grower must use razors to slice the bulb under the poppy plant in the morning. Then wait all day for drops of thick, white opium gum to ooze out. This gum is then scraped and processed with water and solvents to extract a morphine solution. Additional chemicals are added to precipitate solid morphine out of this liquid.

This morphine solid is then dried, heated and processed with several other chemical additives to make heroin. Crude processing creates black-tar heroin, which is mostly smoked or snorted. Additional purification steps are needed to make white-powder heroin, which is injectable.