U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than 687 pounds of khat shipped in air cargo from Nigeria at Washington Dulles International Airport on Monday.
While examining air cargo Sunday, CBP officers discovered foil-wrapped bundles of a green leafy material that was concealed within 18 boxes of a variety of “African fabric.” Officers suspected the plant material to be khat and requested that CBP agriculture specialists examine the material.
CBP agriculture specialists submitted samples to a U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist who confirmed the plant material as khat (Catha edulis).
Officers seized the khat, which weighed in at 312 kilograms, or 678 pounds and 13 ounces. The khat has a street value of about $85,000. The shipment was destined to an address in Essex County, N.J.
“This seizure of khat illustrates how our thorough inspections of international cargo helps to keep illicit and dangerous products out of our communities,” said Casey Durst, Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “Narcotics interdiction remains a priority mission for Customs and Border Protection and a responsibility that we take very serious.”
Khat is typically grown in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and is chewed for its stimulant and euphoric effect. The World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse in 1980.
The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies cathinone as a schedule 1 drug – the most restrictive category used by the DEA, and cathine as a Schedule IV controlled substance.