U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Dulles Airport have seized a large khat shipment from Nigeria that was destined to an address in Washington, DC.
According to the agency, inspectors were examining air cargo that arrived aboard an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi on March 5 when they found a shipment from Lagos, Nigeria manifested as clothes and dried camellia sinensis. When officers opened the shipment, they discovered three boxes that contained dried leaves concealed in silver bags and black plastic bags. They weren’t the organic green tea leaves listed.
A CBP agriculture specialist initially determined the leaves to be khat. Officers submitted samples to a U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist, who confirmed that finding March 20.
The total weight of the khat was 66.78 kilograms, or 147 pounds, four ounces—giving the shipment a street value of about $20,000. It was destroyed.
Khat is typically grown in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and is chewed for its stimulant 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.
CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo, and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality.
CBP seized an average of 3,707 pounds of drugs every day across the United States last year.