Philadelphia—For the second time in less than one month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a 100-plus pounds load of khat at an express mail facility near Philadelphia International Airport.
This seizure ended in the arrest of a man in Minneapolis.
CBP officers seized a combined 167 pounds of khat Monday that arrived in two wooden crates from France. The crates, which were destined to Minnesota, were manifested as nose bars for textile machines. An x-ray examination revealed a green leafy plant instead of machinery parts. CBP officers confirmed the contents to be khat after opening the crates.
The khat has an estimated street value of about $50,000.
CBP shipped the parcels to the Minneapolis Police Department who arrested Abdirazak Barre Aden, 35, on narcotics charges.
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assisted.
“Narcotics interdiction remains a top CBP enforcement priority, and this case exemplifies the exceptional collaboration of federal and municipal law enforcement agencies to help keep our communities safe,” said Tarance Drafts, acting CBP port director for the Port of Philadelphia. “CBP officers remain ever vigilant in our daily battle in combating the flow of illicit and dangerous drugs from entering the United States at our nation’s international ports of entry.”
In the previous seizure, November 26, CBP officers seized a combined 112 pounds of khat that arrived in three international air parcels from Austria and were destined for Connecticut and Illinois.
Khat is a green, leafy plant typically grown in the Arabian Peninsula and chewed for its stimulant effect.
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.
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.
CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on passengers and air cargo searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.
Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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.