Couple charged after fields of opium poppies found in Alexander County drug bust

(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
(Cha and Xee Yang)
(Cha and Xee Yang)

ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A couple was charged after Alexander County authorities found two fields of opium poppies in a rare drug bust Wednesday night.

Xee Yang, 61, and her husband Cha Yang, 61, were charged in the case and jailed under $500,000 bond each.

They are charged with trafficking, manufacturing, and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substance

A sheriff says he believes the plants were being grown to make and sell opium. The plants tested positive for a particular variant of poppies.

Deputies found the plants after receiving a tip. The owners say they were growing it to use for pain medication

"For this amount of plants so to speak that we located, I think it is more than just for pain," Sheriff Chris Bowman said.

Authorities believe there were as many as 2,000 plants in the two fields and they also seized a jar half filled with what they believe is raw opium.

The couple who admitted they grew the plants, said the opium was used for pain.

When asked if they sold the plants or product they emphatically said "No."

The raw opium and plants are worth in "the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more," said Chief Deputy Tod Jones.

He said he believes the opium produced is making it to the streets.

Thursday afternoon, the two accused of growing the fields turned themselves in. Xee Yang and her husband Cha Yang were flanked by relatives who kept reporters away.

A first appearance is set for Monday in Taylorsville.

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