Drug Bust: Police Say Khat Uncommon on North Side
Lincoln Square Patch
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Khat is a flowering shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian-Peninsula. It produces amphetamine-like effects, including euphoria, increased alertness and energy, and hyperactivity. Credit Andy Ambrosius
A Cook County Sheriff’s Police Gang Investigation Team busted an overseas drug deal, and while the narcotic is “uncommon” on the North Side, the 19th Police District Commander says this isn’t the first time he’s heard of the drug.
On Nov. 14, the police team seized 43 pounds of khat, a plant commonly used for narcotic purposes. Homeland Security detained he package on the East Coast, en route from France. Its destination was an address on the 2600 block of South 15th Street in Chicago.
However, while District Commander Elias Voulgaris says he’s seen the drug before, it’s not incredibly common in Chicago or on the North Side.
“The last time I saw KHAT was when I was assigned to the Narcotics Section, and the Package Interdiction Team interdicted a package containing KHAT, a green plant which offers a 'high' if chewed on,” Voulgaris explained in an email. “It is primarily used in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen, so I would believe that it might be available in some of these communities. It is a Scheduled I drug, which means it is illegal. However, it is not a prevalent drug in Chicago.”
Sheriff’s Police took possession of the package on Nov. 16 at O’Hare International Airport and found 43 pounds of khat with an estimated street value of nearly $20,000.
The package was ultimately destined for a cab driver named Hassan Khalif-Mohamud. Investigators delivered the package to Khalif-Mohamad at a downtown Chicago location, and took him into custody after he paid an undercover investigator $150 for its delivery.
Khalif-Mohamud was held without bond for violating probation due to a 2010 charge for possession of a controlled substance. He is scheduled to appear in court on November 28 at the Skokie Courthouse.
According to Cook County Sherriff’s Police:
Khat is a flowering shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian-Peninsula. It produces amphetamine-like effects, including euphoria, increased alertness and energy, and hyperactivity. One may also feel relaxed and talkative.
With use there will be elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, hyperthermia and increased respiration. The effects can last between 90 minutes and 3 hours. After-effects of khat use include lack of concentration, numbness and insomnia.
Khat abuse can lead to psychological dependence, behavioral changes and mental health issues. Individuals can also experience manic behavior with delusions, suicidal depression, anorexia, mouth disease and gastrointestinal system problems.
Most often the fresh leaves and shoots of the khat shrub are chewed and kept in the cheek then chewed intermittently until all the juices from the leaves are extracted. Dried khat can also be made into a tea or chewable paste.