Sgt. Chad Payne, information officer for the Dade County Sheriff's Office, reported as follows on last week's arrest of a man alleged to be transporting "khat":
On January 6, at approximately 12:30 a.m., Deputy Dustin Coffman conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 3000 block of Interstate 24 for a window tint violation.
The driver, Shawki A Salah, 36, of Nashville, Tenn., stated that he was traveling from Atlanta to Nashville. During the traffic stop, it was found that the driver had a suspended driver’s license.
Deputy Dustin Coffman placed the subject under arrest and called a wrecker for his vehicle. While completing a vehicle inventory, the deputy located several large
bags of dried leaves in the vehicle. The large bags were labeled as “green tea”, so the deputy left them with the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the wrecker lot for safe keeping, and the subject was transported to the Dade County Jail for booking.
(Photo: Letting the khat out of the bag.)
After taking the subject to the jail, the deputy contacted an agent with the Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force, and inquired as to what the substance might be. After hearing a description of the substance, the agent advised Coffman he was familiar with the substance, which was known as khat.
The deputy and DTF agent applied for a search warrant, searched the vehicle, and recovered 10 pounds, or over 5 kilos, of the substance known as khat. Street value
is estimated as $800-$1,600 per kilo in the United States.
Salah was charged with possession with intent to distribute, possession of a Schedule 1 substance and driving while license suspended/revoked.
--Sgt. Chad Payne
Editor's Note: Curiosity killed the khat, but Sgt. Chad couldn't help wanting to know more about the substance, so he checked with Wikipedia:
Khat, also known as qat and gat in Yemen, qaat and jaad in Somalia, and chat in Ethiopia (chat is, by the way, French for cat) has been grown for use as a stimulant for centuries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. There, chewing khat predates the use of coffee and is used for similar purposes, usually by men, and in a social context.
Khat leaves are chewed fresh or, less frequently, dried and made into a tea, to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation. It also has anorectic (appetite-reducing) side effects. Khat has been used for centuries in its native habitat but is a controlled substance in the United States.
All khats being gray in the dark, how does the sheriff's office know the khat is khat, and not, after all green tea? "We are certain that's what it is, and it will also be sent to the GBI crime lab for verification," said Sgt. Payne.
The Planet is grateful to the sergeant for his khat's-bird-seat reports on crime. Thanks, Sgt. Chad! You're the khat's pyjamas!