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Ethiopia - 2 refugees accused of importing drug
Shipments from Ethiopia contain the plant, not food
Two Utah resident refugees have been charged with trying to import several hundred pounds of an exotic stimulant into the state from Ethiopia.
Patrick Bahati, 23; and Sherif Kadir Sirage, 42, both of Salt Lake City, were arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Thursday. According to federal charges filed in U.S. District Court, both men were caught importing several hundred pounds of a leafy plant called khat, which is considered a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law and banned not only in the United States but also in much of Europe, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, khat is a flowering evergreen shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Typically people chew fresh leaves, twigs and shoots like tobacco, keeping it in the cheek to release drug compounds.
Some have described the drug's effects as having a feeling of euphoria, but drug enforcement experts said it is highly addictive.
Dried leaves can be made into tea or a chewable paste, and it also can be smoked or sprinkled on food. Khat is referred to on the street as Abyssinian tea, African salad, oat, kat, chat or catha.
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