Dulles CBP Officers Seize a Half-Ton of Khat in two shipments from Ethiopia

Release date: April 8, 2020 – Washington Dulles International Airport

One shipment is the Port’s second largest khat seizure

Dried Ethiopian khat leaves

STERLING, Va. (US Custom and Border Protection)– It might have been April 1st, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport weren’t fooled. Just two weeks after seizing 147 pounds of Nigerian khat, CBP officers seized more than a half-ton of the illicit leafy stimulant today that arrived in air cargo from Ethiopia Wednesday.

CBP officers inspected two separate shipments, each manifested as tea. An examination revealed leaves that a U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist confirmed Thursday to be Catha Edulis, commonly known as khat.

One shipment weighed 390 kilograms, or nearly 860 pounds, and was destined to an address in Alexandria, Va. That seizure is the Port of Washington D.C.’s second largest khat load and ranked #3 for the Baltimore Field Office.

The second shipment weighed 125.96 kilograms, or nearly 278 pounds, and was destined to an address in San Jose, Calif.

The combined weight of the khat was 516 kilograms, or nearly 1,138 pounds, and has a street value of about $155,000. It will be destroyed.

Previously, on March 21, CBP officers seized 147 pounds of khat from Nigeria. That load was destined to an address in Washington, D.C.

“The April 1st incidents were significant, some of the largest khat shipments we’ve seen at Dulles airport, but it further illustrates the vigilance demonstrated by our Customs and Border Protection officers to intercept dangerous products that threaten our communities,” said Javier Cortes, CBP’s Acting Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington D.C.  “CBP remains deeply engaged in our nation’s whole-of-government response to the serious coronavirus pandemic; however, we remain committed to conducting our traditional law enforcement missions, including narcotics interdiction.”

One of two April Fool’s Day khat seizures from Ethiopia.

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 – the most restrictive category used by the DEA, and cathine as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Read more from the DEA on Khat, and on the DEA Khat Fact Sheet.

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 dangerous drugs every day across the United States last year.

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