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CBP Officers Arrest Khat Smuggler in Chicago

Release Date: 
April 11, 2011

Chicago - Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at O'Hare Airport arrested Derek Ryan Jordahl for attempting to smuggle khat into the United States. Jordahl arrived on a flight from the United Kingdom and upon examining his luggage, CBP officers discovered over 112 pounds of khat.

The 21-year-old from Fargo, N.D., was approached by khat traffickers in the U.S. and hired to fly to the United Kingdom and return with suitcases filled with khat. Jordahl was instructed to deliver the khat to individuals in the Minneapolis area, which has a large Somali population.

Jordahl was turned over to agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation for prosecution. At this time, Jordahl is charged with possession and intent to deliver more than 200 grams of a Schedule I or II controlled substances by Cook County sheriff's office. The street value of 112 pounds of khat in Minneapolis is over $20,000.

"The interdiction and arrest of Jordahl further demonstrates the CBP commitment in protecting the American public against the flow of illegal drugs from entering our communities," said David Murphy, CBP director of field operations in Chicago, "CBP will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our nation. I am always pleased with the skill and vigilance of our officers in this critical area of enforcement."

Khat is typically chewed like tobacco. The fresh leaves, twigs, and shoots of the khat shrub are chewed, and then retained in the cheek and chewed intermittently to release an active drug. The khat shrub primarily grows in Kenya; however, it can also be found in Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen. Individuals who abuse khat typically experience a state of mild depression following periods of prolonged use.

Taken in excess, khat causes extreme thirst, hyperactivity, insomnia and loss of appetite. Khat can reduce the user's motivation and can cause manic behavior with grandiose delusions, paranoia and hallucinations. Khat can also cause damage to the nervous, respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017