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Philadelphia CBP Seizes Nearly 97 Pounds of Khat Concealed inside Bags of Herbal Hair Dye

Release Date: 
February 16, 2017

CBP’s Second Khat Load from Kenya in PA in 3 Days

PHILADELPHIA – For the second time in three days, Pennsylvania U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a load of khat from Kenya after discovering 97 pounds of the illicit narcotic concealed inside herbal hair dye bags near Philadelphia International Airport on February 8.

Philadelphia CBP officers intercepted 97 pounds of khat from Kenya on February 8, 2017.
Philadelphia CBP officers intercepted
97 pounds of khat from Kenya on
February 8, 2017.

On February 6, Pittsburgh CBP officers seized 110 of khat concealed under packages of wig and hair extensions.

In the latest seizure, Philadelphia CBP officers discovered the khat in an international air cargo parcel.  The khat, which was destined for an address in Douglasville, Ga., was packaged inside sealed white plastic bags labeled as herbal hair dye.  The khat weighed 43.9 kilograms, or about 96 pounds, 12 ounces, and had a street value of as much as $25,000.

“Khat remains illegal to import into the United States and Customs and Border Protection officers will continue to seize khat when we encounter it,” said Kevin Donohue, Acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.  “This khat interception is another example of how CBP’s border search authority and inspections expertise contributes to keeping our communities safe.”

Authorities made no arrests.  An investigation continues.

Khat is a green, leafy plant typically grown in the Arabian Peninsula and chewed for its stimulant effect.  The World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse in 1980.

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.  Its principal components, cathine and cathinone, are considered controlled substances in the United States. 

“Narcotics interdiction remains an enforcement priority for Customs and Border Protection,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore, the agency’s operational commander in the mid-Atlantic region. “CBP officers remain ever vigilant in combating the flow of illicit and dangerous drugs from entering the United States at our nation’s ports of entry.”

CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on international passengers and cargo and searches for narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products. 

On a typical day, CBP seizes more than 9,000 pounds of illicit drugs along our nation’s borders. Learn more about what CBP's accomplishes in "A Typical Day."

Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn how CBP Field Operations secures our nation’s borders.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021