Over the weekend, the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task force conducted a drug bust at a home in Mankato that netted 17 pounds of a box of khat (pronounce COT). Khat is a plant that is legal in East Africa. Users chew the plant to get a caffeine like stimulus. However, it is illegal to possess here in the U.S. When fresh, khat is more potent but after 48 hours, its potency diminishes substantially. The khat seized during the weekend was of the milder variety.
Khat comes from the leaves of a flowering evergreen shrub from East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Over 10 million people use and abuse Khat primarily in the Middle East. The effects of khat are similar to but less intense than methamphetamine or cocaine. You can chew it, smoke it, or brew in tea. Khat alleviates fatigue and reduces appetite. However, long-term use or abuse can cause insomnia, anorexia, gastric disorders, depression, liver damage and cardiac complications. Manic behavior, delusional behavior, violence, suicidal depression, hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis result in abuse of khat.
The box of khat came from France and when authorities from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection alerted law enforcement agency, they set up a sting operation. An undercover agent delivered the package to the home and when the resident signed for the package, the people in the home were arrested. Three women from Mankato were arrested on felony fifth-degree drug possession.
The street value of the khat was estimated at $6,000.