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article imageNew York authorities bust international Khat ring

By Karen Graham     Jun 28, 2014 in Crime
New York - New York authorities announced on Friday that 17 people have been charged with allegedly running an international drug ring, trafficking in tons of Khat, a plant chewed as a stimulant that is illegal in some countries, including the U.S.
The drug ring allegedly was able to move the Khat through four different continents where it was eventually distributed on the streets of New York, Massachusetts and Ohio, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton.
The 215 count indictment against the drug ring was unsealed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday. It showed the Khat was initially purchased in Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia. Before arriving in the United States, the drugs made a round-about- trip through the United Kingdom, China, Holland and Belgium.
"Khat is a dangerous and illegal drug with worldwide reach," Schneiderman said in a statement. "As a result of this international takedown, a sophisticated operation accused of bringing drugs into the United States and sending the profits overseas has been shut down.”
Following a year-long investigation, 23-year old Yadeta Bekri, living in England, is facing a possible life prison sentence in the U.S. charged with trafficking large quantities of the plant that he obtained from Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia. He allegedly used UPS to ship the packages of khat from Great Britain, China, Holland and Belgium to two other members of the ring. They in turn distributed the khat for sale on the street. Bekri's fiance in Blaine, Minnesota would then send the proceeds of the sales back to him in England.
On July 3, 2013 the United Kingdom officially banned the import and use of khat, apparently doing an about face after a January 2013 statement by the U.K. Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said there was "insufficient evidence" that khat use caused any adverse or serious health effects. Then, after further investigation, on June 24, 2014, khat was made an illegal drug in the U.K.
In the United States, khat is considered an illegal drug under two classifications. This is because khat contains two central nervous system stimulants, cathinone, a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act and cathine, a Schedule IV drug. Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, with no accepted medical use in the United States, and a there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.
Qat (aka chat  jaad  or khat)  is legal and widely popular in Ethiopia  the Horn of Africa  and Sout...
Qat (aka chat, jaad, or khat), is legal and widely popular in Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, and Southern Arabia. Here, qat shrubs are growing between rows of corn.
A. Davey from Where I Live Now: Pacific Northwest
What is khat, and who uses it?
Khat is a flowering plant native to Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Chewing khat has been done for centuries in this part of the world, and is still popular in many Yemeni, Somali and Ethiopian communities. Khat use pre-dates the use of coffee as a stimulant, and is often made into a tea, or dried and sprinkled on food.
The fresh leaves of the khat bush give the best affects, being euphoria and stimulation of the central nervous system, but improved roads and transportation have led to more people having access to the drug. Because fresh khat is a perishable commodity, air transport is essential to its distribution, and because of this, the plant has found its way into countries worldwide.
In Yemen, 40 percent of the country's water supply goes toward the cultivation of khat. The cultivation of this plant gives a good return to the farmers growing it, and on reaching maturity at seven or eight years, requires little maintenance. So much of the Sanaa basin's groundwater has been used that supplies are running out. The government has proposed that the population of Sanaa be relocated to the Coast of the Red Sea.
Photo of locals in Yemen  with the caption: We love khat.
Photo of locals in Yemen, with the caption: We love khat.
Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia
Because of increased immigration around the world, the use of khat by many immigrant communities in the U.K., U.S. and other countries has led to an increase of illegal importation of khat. Many government officials are also concerned about the proceeds from the sale of khat going to fund terrorists, similar to the problems we have with heroin from Afghanistan and cocaine from Central America.
More about New york, Drug ring, Khat, eastern Africa, Stimulant
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