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Over 200 lbs of khat shipped from Qatar seized

Hidden khat

Over 200 lbs of the leafy stimulant khat concealed in a shipment of furniture at Dulles International Airport was seized by border agents.

The 214-lbs shipment was the largest since April 2010, according to Customs and Border Protection, when agents seized 385 pounds of the amphetamine-like plant.

The green leafy plant, usually grown in the Arabian peninsula, and consumed there as a stimulant much like chewing tobacco, was shipped as air freight from Doha, Qatar to Washington Dulles International Airport, said CBP.  

CBP officers discovered the 96.92 kilograms, or 213 pounds, 10.7 ounces, of the substance during a routine inspection of freight manifested as wood coffee tables. The agency said the shipment had an approximate street value of about $30,000.

According to CBP, the freight was being shipped from a wood working company in Kenya to a furniture store in Washington, D.C. Prosecution was declined. CBP officers seized and destroyed the khat.

Khat principal components, cathine and cathinone, are considered controlled substances in the U.S. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies khat as a schedule 1 narcotic – the most restrictive category used by the Drug Enforcement Administration – when the leaves are freshly picked. It is chewed for its stimulant effect and retains its potency for up to 48 hours after being harvested. The World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse in 1980, said CBP.

“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 borders,” said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington, D.C. “Narcotics interdiction remains a CBP enforcement priority.”