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Customs seize large quantity of KHAT

The recent intercept of 12.19kgs of the lesser known Class C drug Khat (pronounced cot) by Customs Officers at Auckland International Airport serves as a timely reminder that it is illegal to import Khat into New Zealand.

“Whilst the use of Khat is considered acceptable in some communities internationally, people need to be aware that importing this drug will result in them being prosecuted,” says Paul Campbell, Customs Air and Marine Auckland Manager.

The offender, a New Zealand citizen and travelling on a New Zealand passport, who had originally arrived in New Zealand some years earlier as a refugee from Somalia, was convicted and fined $300 plus costs when he appeared in the Manukau District Court on Tuesday 15th January.

Customs Officers seized the drug after searching the passenger’s baggage.

It is a significant seizure in so much that it is more (12.9 kilos) than the total amount of KHAT seized, commonly through the mail, during the whole of 2001 (12.4 kilos).

KHAT, the leaf of an evergreen shrub, is consumed in regions where the plant grows naturally, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. It is socially accepted in much the same way as alcohol or tobacco is accepted in New Zealand.

It typically produces cheerfulness, euphoria, and heightened senses, followed later by a degree of tension, anxiety, and irritability.

KHAT is the most common name for the drug in New Zealand, but it is also known as Miraa, Chat, Gat, Cafta, Qat, Tschat, Kus, and African tea.

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