- Associated Press - Monday, August 24, 2020

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man has been accused of growing thousands of poppies at his north-central Kansas home in order to manufacture heroin, authorities said Monday.

A federal indictment charged Matthew Pfeiffer, 43, Morganville, with attempting to manufacture opium, manufacturing thebaine (a constituent of opium) and using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release.

The indictment said the investigation began after federal and Riley County authorities received a tip that Pfeiffer was growing poppies for heroin at his Clay County property. Law enforcement agents seized more than 4,000 poppy plants during a raid on June 4, 2020, authorities said. The poppies were identified as Papaver somniferum, a plant from which opium is derived.

“Opium poppies are an unfamiliar sight in Kansas,” McAllister said, “and we want to keep it that way. It is unlawful to grow poppies for the purpose of producing opiates.”

If convicted, Pfeiffer could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on the charges of attempting to manufacture controlled substances, and up to four years and a fine up to $250,000 on the telephone count.

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