STERLING, VA.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly 214 pounds of khat Dec. 21,
that was shipped as air freight from Doha, Qatar to Washington Dulles International Airport. It is the largest khat seizure in air cargo at Dulles since April 30, 2010, when CBP officers seized 385 pounds of the amphetamine-like plant.
CBP officers discovered the 96.92 kilograms, or 213 pounds, 10.7 ounces, of khat (pronounced COT) during a routine inspection of freight manifested as wood coffee tables. The khat has an approximate street value of about $30,000.
Khat is a green, leafy plant typically grown in the Arabian Peninsula. Its principal components, cathine and cathinone, are considered controlled substances in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies khat as a schedule 1 narcotic - the most restrictive category used by the DEA - when the leaves are freshly picked. It is chewed for its stimulant effect and retains its potency for up to 48 hours after being harvested. The World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse in 1980.
"Khat remains an illegal substance in the United States and as such, Customs and Border Protection officers remain vigilant to intercept khat and other illicit and dangerous drugs at our nation's borders," said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Wash., D.C. "Narcotics interdiction remains a CBP enforcement priority."
The freight was being shipped from a wood working company in Kenya to a furniture store in Wash., D.C. Prosecution was declined. CBP officers seized and destroyed the khat.
For more information, please see the DEA Khat Fact Sheet on the Department of Justice Web site.
CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on passengers and air cargo searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.
For more on CBP's border security mission at our nation's ports of entry, please visit the CBP Web site.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.