Opium Packing Stamp

  Opium Packing Stamp
Dimensions:
3" W x 2" H
Accession Number:
2011.6.1

Clandestine morphine refineries process, package, and mark bricks of opium. This opium packing stamp is from a refinery in the Northern Helmand Province of Afghanistan. It was used to brand packages of processed opium with a glittering gold insignia that read “Jamila,” a name that signifies feminine beauty. Refineries are often located near poppy fields where small farmers collect sap from poppy seed pods by hand and dry it into opium gum. Once the gum is bundled into bricks or cakes, it is wrapped in leaves or plastic and sent to a refinery. Workers then separate morphine from organic waste by mixing the opium with lime in boiling water. Morphine rises to the solution’s top, is collected, reheated, and boiled again before the resulting paste is poured into molds. The molded paste is dried in the sun, packaged, and stamped for illicit distribution.