AIRPORT SECURITY FINDS 2.9 KG OF NARCOTIC KHAT
Customs officials have seized narcotics and thousands of dollars in
undeclared cash and traveller's cheques from a man who arrived in Calgary
on a flight from the United Kingdom.
Officers searching the man's luggage during an examination Tuesday found
2.9 kilograms of khat, a plant grown in east Africa and the Middle East
that can have a mild hallucinogenic effect when its leaves are chewed.
"Where it comes from, it's not illegal, but it is in Canada," Gordon
Luchia, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said Wednesday.
Khat is grown mainly in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia and its use is
common there. Chewing khat can produce feelings of euphoria and increased
alertness, but excessive consumption can cause slurred speech, staggering
and violence among users.
The man arrived on a flight from London, but neither Luchia nor RCMP
investigators had any details about his nationality Wednesday.
London was the place of origin of the last significant khat seizure in
Calgary, which happened last May, when officers found 46 kilograms of the
substance stashed in a suitcase and a backpack belonging to a traveller
arriving from the British capital.
The khat seized Tuesday is worth approximately $1,450, Luchia said.
In addition to the 21 bundles of khat hidden among clothes in the man's
luggage, officers found $15,000 of undeclared U.S. traveller's cheques and
$3,800 in cash.
Federal proceeds-of-crime laws, as well as the Terrorist Financing Act,
require anyone entering the country to declare if they are carrying
monetary instruments worth more than $10,000. The traveller has been turned
over to the RCMP, which is investigating.
The man's cash and traveller's cheques have been seized pending the outcome
of an investigation.
Depending on the outcome, investigators could permanently seize the entire
amount, or levy a fine of up to $5,000 for not declaring cash and