Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 
By Corky Siemaszko

They don’t just grow cotton down south.

A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy investigating a complaint stumbled across an opium poppy field worth an estimated $500 million, officials said.

The plants, which are used to make opium, morphine and heroin, were found on an acre of land near the town of Claremont, some 40 miles north of Charlotte.

"All total investigators removed and seized over 2,000 pounds of opium poppy plants found growing on the property along with multiple firearms and ammunition," the Catawba County Sheriff's Office said in a statement to NBC News.

Cody Xiong, 37.Catawba Sheriff's Office

"One of our narcotics investigators came to the house looking for something else," Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told the Hickory Daily Record. "When he knocked on the door, the guys said, 'I guess you’re here about the opium.'"

And there behind the house, was row after row of poppy plants.

Cody Xiong, 37, was arrested at the farm Tuesday and charged with two felonies — manufacturing a Schedule II drug and trafficking in opium, police said. He was later released after posting $45,000 bail.

Catawba County Sheriff''s Office narcotic officer pulls a poppy plant from a field in Claremont, Catawba County, North Carolina.Robert C. Reed / Hickory Daily Record