Several shipments of khat seized at Philadelphia airport - Bucks County Courier Times: Bucks County | Local news | Breaking News
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Philadelphia said they seized 150 pounds of khat — a stimulant from the Arabian Peninsula — 140 codeine tablets and 16 vials of steroids in a little more than a week.
The largest of the seizures, they said, was made Friday when officers found 46 pounds, 15 ounces of khat in a parcel purported to be “Decorative Artistic Handicrafts” and bound for Riverwoods, Ill.
Khat is a narcotic stimulant grown in the area of the Arabian Peninsula and Horn of Africa. It is chewed, like tobacco leaves, but its primary ingredients are cathine and cathinone, both of which are controlled substances in the United States. Khat is legal in other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, though it is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
Because its potency rapidly decreases in the first 24 hours after harvest, it is often express-shipped overseas.
CBP spokesman Stephen Sapp said customs agents often intercept shipments coming into the United States on international flights originating from the Arabian Peninsula. Often the destination is an area with a large population. He said CBP does not release information on the origin of the shipments as they are under investigation either in the U.S. or their country of origin.
The first of the recent spate of seizures in Philadelphia was Feb. 27 when officers noticed an anomaly in an X-ray of a package purported on its manifest to be “Adidas junior bags,” and destined for Cromwell, Conn., according to a press release. Inside were 24 pounds, 4 ounces of khat, according to the CBP.
Two more khat seizures were made Wednesday. One was bound for Skokie, Ill., and weighed 22 pounds, 3 ounces, and a second was headed to West Dundee, Ill., and held 15 pounds, 14 ounces of khat, according to a press release.
Another two seizures were made Thursday: a package of 23 pounds, 9 ounces of khat bound for Minneapolis and another bound for Skokie containing 16 pounds, 12 ounces of the drug, officials said.
CBP officers also seized 140 codeine tables bound for Rochester, Minn., on Wednesday. Sapp said the agency also seized 16 vials of steroids — 10 vials of 10 ml of Decatest 350, and six 10 ml vials of Megabol 275.