Authorities say they visited a North Carolina home this week after receiving a tip about a crime, but the crime they found wasn't the one resident Cody Xiong allegedly divulged. After a tip came into police last week—possibly related to a cockfighting operation, per the Charlotte Observer—an officer knocked on the door of Xiong's home near Claremont on Tuesday, Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid tells CBS News. Whatever the officer was looking for, Reid says it wasn't what he soon found. According to police, Xiong opened up the door, saw the officer, and said simply, "I guess you're here about the opium." It was only then that police say they discovered poppy plants spread across an acre of land behind Xiong's home.
The 2,000 plants, which can be used to make heroin and opium, are believed to be worth a whopping $500 million. It's "unbelievable," Reid tells WBTV, noting only one other poppy field has been found in the US this year. He adds after an hour of pulling plants, officers had "not made a dent" in the crop. "It's very intimidating," an officer told WCNC on Tuesday. "I was overwhelmed just like the rest of the investigators when we came out here today. We weren't expecting anything this size." Officials believe the plants, once harvested, were moved to another location to be made into opium. Xiong has been charged with manufacture and trafficking by possession. Some 80 chickens were also confiscated from his home, reports the Observer. (Three women from Minnesota hid opium and heroin in tea leaves.)