Yemeni student among four held over khat leaf smuggling

KUALA LUMPUR: Nearly 91kg of khat leaves were seized during a swoop at the KL Inter­national Airport’s cargo terminal and a building that ended with the arrest of four men.

The operation on Wednesday was conducted by Bukit Aman’s Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (Sting), crippling the syndicate that tried to smuggle in the banned stimulant by declaring the consignment as “tea leaves”.

The four suspects, aged between 19 and 54, include a Yemeni college student and another person from the United Arab Emirates,

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said the drugs – with a street value of about RM50,000 – were smug­­gled from Uganda and were meant for Middle-Easterns living in Malaysia.

Khat-chewing is a long established social custom in the Arabian Peninsula, with the leaves derived from Catha edulis, a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and Arabia.

Khat contains an alkaloid called cathinone, which is an amphetamine-like stimulant capable of producing excitement or euphoria while suppressing the appetite.

In 1980, the World Health Organisation classified it as a drug that can produce mild-to-moderate psychological dependence, though to a lesser extent than tobacco or alcohol.

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