Yuma Farmers Sally Nakasawa and Robert Nickerson Sue Over $12 Million Worth of Poppies Destroyed by the DEA

nakasawa sally.JPG
Image: Yuma Daily Sun photo loaned by Karen Bowen
Sally Nakasawa is one of the Yuma farmers suing the DEA over the loss of a $12 million crop of poppies intended for use as floral decorations.

Yuma farmers Sally Nakasawa and Robert Nickerson have been major growers of poppies for years, selling them for use in floral decorations.

Their flowers could be seen by the public off U.S. Highway 95, and in 2008 a photo of them were featured in a Yuma Daily Sun article that pegged poppies as the "crop of the week."

Then, in the summer of 2010, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency showed up and wiped out the entire crop, claiming they were an illegal variety known as Papaver somniferum, a.k.a., the opium poppy.

No allegation has ever been made that the farmers sold their poppies to drug dealers or for any purpose besides to look pretty in a vase. No criminal charges were ever filed.

poppy 2.JPG
Image: Wikimedia Commons
This is papaver somniferum, a type of poppy that is illegal to grow. The DEA claims the Yuma crop it destroyed were of this variety, but has so far refused to prove it.

More than $12 million in products were chopped down, seized and burned -- a major blow to the farmers.

"It's a terrible thing that happened," says the farmers' Yuma lawyer, Jim Clark. "It was a big deal, and a big loss."

With Clark's help, the farmers filed a federal complaint yesterday against the DEA, asking for compensation for the lost crop and an additional $1 million in punitive damages.

Clark says a botanical expert hired by the farmers concluded that not enough evidence existed to prove with any certainty that the crop was the illegal species. But the farmers don't know exactly what variety they were growing, Clark admits.

"For 25 years, nobody said 'boo' about it," he says.

In any case, you would think it would be up to government experts to prove they knew what they were doing when they destroyed millions of dollars worth of plants intended for use in floral arrangements.

The DEA denied a claim made by the farmers that preceded the lawsuit. But the agency has, so far, refused to provide any evidence that they had targeted the right species, Clark says.

We find that suspicious. The DEA did not return a call for this article.

At this point, these Yuma farmers appear to be more innocent victims in the failed War on Drugs.


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11 comments
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer

The real tragedy, is this woman's daughter's name was Mary Jane, she was also destroyed by DEA agents.  The dog, Marley?  Also seized and put down.  The father, Bud, could not be reached for comment, he was destroyed as well.  C'mon DEA, it's bad enough you fight an unwinnable war, Evidence of your ignorance in such a stark, flamboyant way just makes you look all that worse.

savatage
savatage

*ALL* poppies contain opiates. Some species have more, but they all contain some. Don't eat a poppyseed muffin before a drug test or you'll find out firsthand.

slippery mike
slippery mike

I read,years ago that the poppies that have a hairy pod and stem are not the variaty that will get you high.
the plants with the smooth pods and stems are supposed to be the opioid producer,as like the one pictured above.
I also heard that the seeds from McCormick grow good.
the government is too big,and needs  to allow men free will.
I believe the devine creator gave us all fre will,and we surrendered it for security.
I've seen what hydrocodone has done to this nation,and the "doctors were selling the rope",to steal  a line from Kruschev.

Not Surprised
Not Surprised

These are bona fide farmers.  There should have been some dialog between the DEA and the farmers before their crops were destroyed.  It's suspect that no charges were ever brought.

Coz
Coz

Sue the pricks and win !

Markle
Markle

Yup. One of the first Mythbusters myths. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... (Discovery Channel's, uh, channel) Skip to 3:00 if you don't want to watch two people choking down baked goods in close-up or just want the results

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