BALTIMORE – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) examines imported Valentine’s Day flowers to ensure the gift you give your loved one is free from invasive insects or plant diseases. But it was a different kind of plant material that caught the enforcement eye of Baltimore CBP recently.
Two shipments that arrived by air from Nigeria and were destined to an address in Lanham, Maryland contained 724 pounds of khat, a green, leafy plant typically grown in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula that the World Health Organization classified as a drug of abuse.
The first shipment of 491 pounds arrived February 12 manifested as green tea. The second shipment of 233 pounds arrived February 13 also manifested as green tea. Each shipment contained dried leaves that CBP suspected to be khat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist confirmed samples of each shipment to be Catha Edulis, commonly known as khat.
“Customs and Border Protection is our nation’s first line of defense against transnational criminal organizations that thrive on the sale of illicit products such as khat to fund their other nefarious businesses,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “We will remain steadfast in our commitment to secure our homeland and to help protect the health and well-being of our families and the American public.”
Khat is chewed for its stimulant effect. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies cathinone as a schedule 1 drug – the most restrictive category used by the DEA. Please see more information on the DEA Khat Fact Sheet.
CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts narcotics, weapons, currency, prohibited agriculture products, counterfeit goods and other illicit items at our nation’s 328 international ports of entry. Learn what CBP achieved on "A Typical Day" during 2017.
CBP's Border Security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders.
Learn more about CBP at CBP.gov.