Monday, May 07, 2012
The RCMP say they’ve not found “hard evidence” to show that proceeds from the illegal trade of the East African drug khat is being used to fund terrorism.
Seven men were arrested in Britain last week for allegedly smuggling
millions of dollars worth of khat to the U.S. and Canada, with the profits
being funnelled to terror groups, police alleged.
Tonnes of the drug — a leafy plant — arrives at Pearson International Airport daily from Britain. RCMP officers have made dozens of arrests and seizures
“There is no hard evidence for us to link khat to terrorism,” said Supt.
Rick Penney, the RCMP’s GTA drug enforcement commander. “There is an awful
lot of it that we seize coming into the country.”
He said khat, which has a shelf-life of several days, is smuggled by
couriers in suitcases and boxes from Britain, where it is not illegal.
He estimated about 100 tonnes of khat is seized yearly at Pearson.
“Someone will always be making money in a scheme like this,” Penney said.
“One can always pre-suppose where the money is going but there is no hard
Most of the khat is smuggled by couriers, who range from students to
seniors, and are paid up to $3,000 by khat dons to bring a load here.
They risk being charged with importing a controlled substance. Most of those convicted are fined.
Police alleged the British suspects were raising funds for a number
of al-Qaida cells, including Al-Shahab, whose members have been fighting for
Islamic law in Somalia.
British cops claimed the suspects are part of a sophisticated network with
links abroad that illegally exported khat to North America.
Khat is illegal in Canada but it remains popular among those from East African nations like Somalia and Kenya. Users chew the leaves to ingest a juice that contains an ingredient similar to amphetamine.
The drug has to be cleared from Pearson airport and transported to Toronto-area
stores for resale in hours or it begins decaying, police said.