May 26 (UPI) -- Catawba County, N.C., sheriffs officials said a man immediately admitted he was growing one acre of opium poppy plants to a deputy who knocked on his door investigating another case.
Cody Xiong of Claremont, 40 miles north of Charlotte, was charged with manufacturing a Schedule II drug and opium trafficking, each a felony. The sheriffs office reported the man was growing $500 million in opium poppy plants on his property.
"One of our narcotics investigators came to the house looking for something else. When he knocked on the door, the guys said, 'I guess you're here about the opium,'" Sheriff Coy Reid said.
Authorities said the opium plants, used to make heroin, were growing in rows in a field behind Xiong's home.
Investigators believe the 2,000 pounds of poppies were being grown in Catawba County then were shipped elsewhere to convert them to heroin.
It was unclear what prompted the visit to Xiong's property, but officials said they acted on a tip and obtained a search warrant last week. About 80 chickens with unusual injuries were also found and seized at the home, leading officials to believe Xiong was involved in a cockfighting ring, although no animal-related charges have been filed.