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Friday, June 27, 2014

Drug Ring Busted for Smuggling "Khat" into the U.S.

Khat leaves and stems are chewed to produce an amphetamine-like high.
Seventeen members of the alleged drug ring that brought tons of the euphoria-inducing plant from Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia to the city have been charged in a 215-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn by the State’s Attorney General office.
Khat’s unprocessed leaves and stems are chewed in their fresh form and contains an amphetamine-like stimulant. Because it is not processed, traffickers have to move it quickly. 
It’s legal in many places like Kenya and Ethiopia were it’s cultivated, and has been used in Yemen for thousands of years.However, Khat is illegal in the United States and most other western countries.
“Khat is a dangerous and illegal drug with worldwide reach,” said state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Trafficking often funds other criminal activity.”
The ring was allegedly headed by Yadeta (Murad) Bekri, 23, of England, who would arrange for large shipments of Khat to various UPS locations in Manhattan.
His cohorts would then pick up the packages, as evidenced on surveillance cameras, and stored in Brooklyn’s Islamic Society of Flatbush and a number of storage facilities, according to court papers.
The drug was then sold upstate and in parts of Ohio and Massachusetts with the proceeds laundered in Minnesota — where Bekri’s girlfriend lives — and sent back to England, Dubai and other locations, the authorities alleged.

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