German officials seize 1.2 tons of banned stimulant khat
Berlin, Oct 19: Munich airport officials on Tuesday said they had seized a bumper haul of illicit khat leaves that was on its way to the US.
The 1.2 metric ton haul — a record amount for the airport — was headed to the United States from Dubai, through Germany.
Customs officials at Munich airport discovered the leaves in a cargo shipment that had been declared as "table decoration."
German customs officials often inspect and, if necessary, seize shipments that are only in transit.
"This is the largest amount of khat seized since Munich Airport was established," said Thomas Meister, press spokesman for Munich's main customs office.
The office said "appropriate proceedings" had been initiated and the goods seized with the investigation ongoing.
What is khat?
Khat is a regularly used stimulant in the Horn and Africa and parts of the Middle East.
It is chewed and then held in the cheek as the juices are extracted for its stimulant and euphoric effects.
However, it can lead to psychological dependence, depression, and paranoid delusions, and is a controlled or banned substance in most of Europe and North America.
The leaf is particularly popular in the Yemeni, Ethiopian, and Somali cultures.
US officials say khat use there is most prevalent among immigrants from those countries.