DEA Busts 8 People for Khat Sales

Fresno, CA, USA Federal drug agents believe the group was distributing hundreds of pounds of Khat all over the country. The suspects are accused of importing the drug from places like Kenya, Ethiopia and China and then selling it for a large profit in the United States.

Family members leaving the federal courthouse Friday didn't say much after their friends and relatives pleaded not guilty. This is the drug federal agents believe the group was importing and distributing all over the United States.

Drug Enforcement Agent John Donnelly said, "Khat is a plant that comes from the eastern part of Africa that's commonly known as the horn of Africa. It grows naturally there. The leaves from that and the stems can be taken off and chewed."

This "YouTube" video illustrates the drug being ingested.

Khat is similar to amphetamine in the molecular makeup and creates a euphoric feeling while under the influence. Drug enforcement agents say the controlled substance is very profitable in the U.S., it's cheap to import and has a high resale value.

"A kilogram of the freeze dried leaves which is called graba can be sold in East Africa for $10.00 and shipped to the U.S. for an additional $20.00. Where it can be resold here for anywhere from $350.00 to 400.00 per kilo," said Donnelly.

Khat is not popular, and busts like this weeks are unusual. Federal agents believe the group was using commercial delivery services to transport large amounts of the drug to other parts of the United States.

Some of the people arrested were taken into custody in Seattle and San Jose. If convicted, the accused could spend 40 years in prison.


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