1.2 tons of khat seized at Vietnam airport

By Dam Huy, Thanh Nien News

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Khat leaves seized at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport. Photo: Dam Huy Khat leaves seized at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport. Photo: Dam Huy

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Customs officers at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport have seized a total of 1.2 tons of the narcotic stimulant khat in five separate cases recently.
The latest case was detected on June 4 when the agency in coordination with the Ministry of Public Security seized 336kg in cargo sent to a company in Binh Thanh District.
The company, whose name was not disclosed, had declared the consignment from Kenya as tea leaves.
On May 25 customs seized 170kg sent to the same company.
Two other seizures were made on May 17 and 29 of 510 kg sent to a company in District 1 and a man in Dong Nai Province.
Investigators said the leaves were set to be smuggled to the US, Australia and European countries.
On May 18 a HCMC company managed to obtain a license from the Plant Inspection Department to export 34 kg of khat leaves to the US by declaring the consignment as henna leaves.
But it was seized at Tan Son Nhat airport.
Police are investigating the smuggling cases.
A police official who asked not to be named estimated the market value of 1.2 tons of khat leaves at more than US$2.2 million.
Khat leaves contain psychoactive ingredients cathine and cathinone, which are similar to amphetamines.
When chewed, they cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. But users, after the high, can become depressed, experience loss of appetite and sleep disorder.

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