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Pittsburgh CBP Seizes 110 Pounds of Khat Concealed under Wigs, Hair Extensions

Release Date: 
February 7, 2017

PITTSBURGH – Some people use wigs to conceal their identity; however, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Pittsburgh International Airport learned that wigs can be used to conceal other things too, when officers discovered about 110 pounds of dried khat buried under packages of wigs in a shipment from Kenya on Monday.

“It is uncommon for Customs and Border Protection officers to encounter any sizable narcotics in Pittsburgh, so this was a great khat identification and interception by our CBP officers,” said Susan Anderson, CBP Port Director for the Port of Pittsburgh.  “This khat interception is another example of how CBP’s border search authority and inspections expertise contributes to keeping our communities safe.”

CBP officers seized 110 lbs of khat concealed under wig and hair extension products in PIttsburgh on February 6, 2017.
CBP officers seized 110 lbs of khat
concealed under wig and hair extension
products in Pittsburgh on February 6, 2017.

The khat, manifested as “general products,” arrived on Friday and was destined to an address in McKees, Pa.  CBP Field Operations officers, assigned to air cargo operations, examined the parcel Monday and discovered the khat in several bags concealed by numerous packages of wig and hair extension products.

The khat weighs about 50 kilograms, or about 110 pounds, and has an approximate street value of as much as $30,000.

Authorities made no arrests.  An investigation continues.

“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.”

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. 

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