March 20, 1996 in Idaho

Three Arrested In Big Opium Bust

From Staff And Wire Reports

A Boise man and two women have been arrested in what authorities are calling the largest opium bust in Idaho history.

Police say about 40 pounds of opium was found Monday hidden inside 310 brightly painted wooden parrots.

“On the street in Sacramento or San Francisco, this could go for up to $1 million,” said John Bott, agent-in-charge at the Drug Enforcement Agency in Boise.

DEA agents, along with state and local police, arrested 41-year-old Fouloon Saephan at a motel near Boise Municipal Airport.

Two Sacramento, Calif., women - Nai Poo Saechao, 40, and Nai Chan Saechan, 34 - also were arrested at the motel.

Bott said Saephan accepted 12 packages from a DEA agent and a state investigator, who were posing as delivery men.

According to the invoice, the packages - sent from Bangkok, Thailand - contained about 2,100 wooden handicraft items, including birds, butterflies and fish.

The drug shipment was discovered by U.S. Customs Service officials in San Francisco a week ago.

But the opium probably was not meant to be sold in Idaho.

“I think it was destined for California. They probably sent it here because they thought it was an out-of-the-way place,” Bott said.

Opium - which is made from the juice of an unripe opium poppy seed - can be converted into morphine and heroin.

Bott said this opium shipment was meticulously prepared for its trip to Idaho.

All three were being held in the Ada County Jail Monday night.

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