Charges dropped after massive 2017 poppy field bust in Catawba County

Charges dropped after massive poppy field bust in Catawba County in 2017
Charges dropped after massive poppy field bust in Catawba County in 2017(WBTV Ben Williamson)
Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 at 6:21 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charges against a Claremont man accused of growing thousands of poppy plants in his back yard in 2017 have been dropped. A formal dismissal notice was filed by the Catawba County District Attorney’s Office in January of 2019.

In that dismissal it cites the inability of the Law Enforcement Officer to testify.

Cody Xiong was arrested in May of 2017 after deputies say they found roughly $500 million worth of poppy plants in his backyard. Poppy plants can be used to make Opium or other illegal drugs.

At the time, Captain Jason Reid was the lead of the Narcotics unit and he was the lead investigator on Xiong’s case. WBTV interviewed him in May of 2017 while they gathered the poppy plants from Xiong’s backyard.

In 2018, a WBTV investigation lead to the indictment of Reid on charges of stalking his girlfriend and placing a tracking device on her car that belonged to the Catawba County Narcotics Unit. Reid was a Sheriff’s candidate at that time.

In 2017, the District Attorney at the time, David Learner, filed a ‘Giglio letter’ against Reid which is a formal acknowledgement of credibility issues. In a 2018 interview with WBTV, Learner said Reid would not be allowed to testify in any case in his district as long as he was the DA.

When reached by phone on Thursday, Learner did not have any comment on the dismissal of Xiong’s charges or other cases his office refused to prosecute.

WBTV spoke with current Catawba County District Attorney Scott Reilly on Thursday. His office is the one that filed the Dismissal Notice in January of 2019.

Reilly says there are a handful of cases that the previous administration ‘refused to prosecute’ because of the connection with the Catawba County Narcotics Unit. The one that Reid was the leader of.

Reilly would not comment on past relationships between past DA offices and their relationship with the Sheriff’s Office. He also had no idea exactly how many cases the former DA’s office refused to prosecute.

“This {Cody Xiong} case is the only case I know of where we have filed the dismissal notice,” said Reilly.

Cody Xiong’s case is unique in that he was actually arrested. Many times, a ‘prosecution summary’ is presented to the DA’s office and a decision not to prosecute is made.

WBTV has previously reported more than 50 drug cases in Lincoln County were dismissed because ‘issues with the arresting officers.’ The Catawba County Narcotics Team under the leadership of Jason Reid, worked in that county as well.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.