Two Philadelphia men were arrested Thursday after officials discovered a shipment of the rare drug khat, according to Upper Allen Township police.
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified the police department Tuesday that the khat was intercepted in transit from the United Kingdom to a UPS facility in the township, police said.
They added that the package consisted of rolled fabric with about 40 pounds of khat secreted in the middle, and that the drug’s estimated street value is $10,000.
Khat (pronounced cot), is a flowering shrub native to northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, police said. Fresh khat leaves contain cathinone, a Schedule I controlled substance under the PA Drug Device and Cosmetic Act. Khat typically is ingested by chewing the leaves or by brewing or cooking dried leaves. Blood pressure and heart rate increase immediately upon ingesting khat, police said, and abusers claim it lifts spirits, sharpens thinking, and increases energy -- effects similar to but less intense than those caused by abusing cocaine or methamphetamine.
Police took possession of the package Wednesday and, in cooperation with UPS, arranged for its controlled delivery, police said.
On Thursday Mohamed M. Ali, 29, of the 700 block of 52nd Street, came into the UPS store and picked up the package, police said. It was then loaded into a rental car operated by Abu Said Habib, 31, of the 1800 block of 32nd Street, police said.
The car was stopped was shopped a short distance away in the parking lot of Burger King and both men arrested and the vehicle impounded, police said.
July 19, 2009