PHILADEPHIA—It’s harvest time, but this foreign plant is a no-no in the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized three international air parcels November 26 that contained a combined 112 pounds of khat, a green, leafy plant typically grown in the Arabian Peninsula and chewed for its stimulant effect.
All three parcels arrived at an express mail facility near Philadelphia International Airport on a flight from Austria. Two parcels, one about 54 pounds and the other about 30 pounds, were destined for Connecticut. The third parcel weighed about 28 pounds and was destined for Illinois.
The parcels were manifested as either uncut oxford cloth rolls or corrugated paperboard rolls.
The khat has an estimated street value of about $33,600.
“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 international ports of entry,” said Tarance Drafts, acting CBP port director for the Port of Philadelphia. “Narcotics interdiction remains a top CBP enforcement priority.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies khat (pronounced COT) as a schedule 1 narcotic – the most restrictive category used by the DEA – when the leaves are freshly picked. Its principal components, cathine and cathinone, are considered controlled substances in the United States.
The World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse in 1980. It is chewed for its stimulant effect and retains its potency for up to 48 hours after being harvested.
Please see the DEA Khat Fact Sheet.
CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on passengers and air cargo searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.
For more information on CBP's border security mission at our nation's Ports of Entry, please visit Field Operations/Port Security.
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.