Drug Treatment Ordered for Man Who Imported Opium Poppies

BOSTON, July 20, 2012—A South Boston man was ordered this week to remain in drug treatment and submit to random testing after admitting to facts sufficient for a finding of guilty on charges that he possessed opium poppy pods imported from overseas.

South Boston District Court Judge Michael Bolden yesterday ordered the case against MATTHEW BERKOWITZ, 32, continued without a finding for a period of two years. In addition to drug treatment and testing, Bolden ordered Berkowitz to remain drug free, report weekly to his probation officer, perform 12 hours of community service, and submit to random monitoring of his Internet usage in light of the online nature of his orders for the illicit plants.

Prosecutors had recommended that Berkowitz be found guilty of possession of a Class B substance and serve two years of probation with the same terms and conditions.

Boston Police in January took custody of a DHL package containing the poppies, illegal in the United States but legal in Great Britain, from where they had been shipped. The package was addressed to Berkowitz’ West 4th Street residence. An officer dressed as a DHL deliveryman rang the bell, was granted access to the building with a fellow officer, and met the defendant at his door. Berkowitz signed for the package, at which point the second officer identified himself and presented his badge and placed Berkowitz under arrest. Inside the apartment, they observed a grinding and preparation station for processing the plants into a tea.

Possession of opium poppies in Massachusetts is rare, prosecutors said: Berkowitz’ case was the very first to be charged in Suffolk County.

Berkowitz was represented by attorneys David Eisenstadt and Thomas Hoopes.


All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.