DEA prepares khat crackdown

Posted on March 26th, 2010 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

khatThe DEA is said to be preparing a new crackdown on khat, the mildly psychoactive leaf grown in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, in response to a boom in domestic demand as more Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants arrive in the US. In a joint raid with local police, US Customs and Border Patrol intercepted a 22-pound package of the leaf in Wisconsin's La Crosse County March 13. It was apparently bound for the Twin Cities area. (La Crosse Tribune, March 13)

On March 23, Shokey Albaneh, 28, of Lackawanna, NY, was arrested by Cheektowaga police after officers found him in possession of khat after a vehicle stop. (Buffalo News, March 26)

But a certain khat paranoia seems to be in evidence. Okoronkwo Umeham, a 73-year-old San Diego social worker and US citizen who was born in Nigeria, was arrested by Mexican border security after crossing from San Diego to Tijuana March 15 with what was assumed to be khat but was actually legal herbs for a traditional Nigerian soup called ugu that he was bringing to a relative. He was released after two days but his wife said he the experience left him humiliated. "It would have been nice if someone had said sorry," she said. (AP, March 25)

According to a 2002 report, the previous year, US Customs inspectors seized more than 17,000 pounds of bundled khat leaves at New Jersey's Newark airport. The khat, mostly grown in the mountains of Yemen, arrives in the US within 24 hours of harvesting to assure freshness. Users pay more than $50 for bundles the size of small flower bouquets, consuming it at social gatherings. DEA agents are reportedly conducting an intelligence study on where the money trail leads after khat is sold in the US. (Bergen Record, Nov. 2, 2002)

Photo by Eesti


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