Wednesday February 6, 2019
Customs officials recovered at least 600 kg of dry Khat leaves valued at Rs 17 crore ($2.4 million) from three consignments at Delhi airport, which were imported as green tea leaves from Ethiopia. This is the biggest seizure of the banned drug, officials said, adding that two Ethiopian nationals were arrested in the case.
Dry Khat is a stimulant drug, which is usually chewed, smoked or mixed in liquids. In India, it is listed as a psychotropic substance under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. “It is equally addictive as heroin. Dry Khat makes a person hyperactive and aggressive. It energises one with elevated blood, sudden behavioural changes and may cause paranoia,” a customs officer said.
The officer said the recovery led to the arrest of two Ethiopian nationals and a man who worked at the Delhi airport’s cargo terminal. The three containers were imported to Delhi from Ethiopia on February 2. The seizure was a joint effort of officials from customs (cargo) and IGI airport.
A customs officer from Delhi airport, who did not wish to be named, said they had received an input regarding the movement of the containers from the African nation on January 30. “On Monday, when the containers were being readied for transportation, we raided the cargo terminal and caught two Ethiopian men to whom the containers belonged. On questioning, they tried to pass off the drug as green tea leaves. We got it checked from our experts and the leaves were identified as dry Khat. The two men were arrested,” said the officer.
Detailed examination revealed that each of the three containers had 200 kg dry Khat.
“ After the interrogation of the two men, we zeroed in on an Indian who reportedly works as a customs broker. He was helping the two men with the paper work in clearing the consignment. We are yet to ascertain his antecedents. We are not revealing the names of the three men as investigation is in process,” the officer said, adding that they have not come across any medical or legal industrial usage of dry Khat for which such a large consignment could have possibly been smuggled into the city.