Hamrun man to be charged after customs seize 113kg of khat

Customs officials inspecting commercial airfreight cargo discovered the illegal drug yesterday morning in a consignment declared to be henna leaves.

The seized Khat leaves. Photo credit: Customs
The seized Khat leaves. Photo credit: Customs

A Hamrun shopowner is expected to be charged in connection with the interception of 113kg of a prohibited substance known as khat which arrived in Malta as airfreight.

Khat is an illegal chewing stimulant which is listed as a dangerous drug. It is most popular in East Africa, Yemen, and Southern Saudi Arabia.

Customs Officials from the Airfreight Section, while inspecting commercial cargo arriving at one of the airport’s cargo sheds yesterday morning, came across a consignment of what was declared as Henna leaves. The consignment was flagged as suspicious by the releasing officials and Customs Enforcement personnel were called to test the substance.

After offloading the pallet and inspecting all the boxes, a total of 59 packets of a green substance, weighing 113 kgs net, were seized. The Enforcement Officials were not convinced that the merchandise consisted of raw henna due to the consistency and smell and suspected it was khat. The help of the Police Anti-Drug Squad was requested, who seized the cargo for additional forensic laboratory tests.

Late in the evening, forensic tests confirmed that the substance was indeed khat.

The man who was to receive the items, a foreign citizen living in Malta who owns a shop in Hamrun, was placed under arrest pending investigation and is expected to be arraigned in Court.