News Release
December 14
, 2007
Contact: Erin McKenzie-Mulvey
212 337-2906

Four Members of International Khat Trafficking Ring Found Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court

DEC 14 -- (New York) JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division Drug Enforcement Administration and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that DAHIR ABDULLE SHIRE, a/k/a “Jarato,” MOHAMED JAMA, a/k/a “Jibouti,” MUHIDIN MOHAMED, a/k/a “Muqabelow,” and AHMED MOHAMOUD EGAL, a/k/a “Arabey,” were found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy charges stemming from their roles in an international drug trafficking organization that imported khat from Africa, through Western Europe, to New York City. According to the Indictment and evidence at trial in Manhattan federal court: Khat is a plant cultivated in Kenya and Ethiopia. Among the active ingredients in khat are cathinone, a central nervous stimulant classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under United States law. Users of khat chew the leaves and young shoots of the plant, swallowing the juice and storing the residue in the side of the mouth until the cheek bulges. The primary effects of chewing khat are euphoria and stimulation, and side effects include psychotic reactions, paranoia, and aggression.

Special Agent in Charge John Gilbride stated, “Today’s verdicts prove that the American public will not tolerate drug trafficking – be it cocaine or khat. This investigation unearthed awareness that khat is a highly addictive stimulant that is illegal in our country. The DEA will continue to identify, investigate and ultimately indict those members of khat trafficking organizations responsible for bringing khat into the United States for distribution.” SAC Gilbride commended the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York for their diligent work.

The vast international drug network, in which SHIRE, JAMA, MOHAMED, and EGAL were members, moved khat from the Horn of Africa -- where khat plants are grown -- through Western Europe, to New York, from where the khat plants were distributed throughout the United States. Ultimately, the khat plants were sold in various cities, including Minneapolis, Minnesota; Columbus, Ohio; Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; and Washington, D.C. The drug organization regularly smuggled large scale shipments of khat -- by human courier and mislabeled express mail packages -- from early 2005 until the nationwide arrests of approximately forty members of the organization in July and August 2006.

SHIRE, JAMA, MOHAMED, and EGAL, along with their co-conspirators, generated thousands of dollars from their illicit drug business, large portions of which were remitted overseas to pay foreign suppliers of khat in Western Europe. SHIRE, JAMA, MOHAMED and EGAL were found guilty of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute khat plants containing cathinone, a Schedule I controlled substance. SHIRE, JAMA, and MOHAMED were also found guilty of conspiring to import khat plants containing cathinone. Each of those charges carries a maximum prison term of twenty years. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. before United States District Judge DENISE L. COTE.

Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative work of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force" (Strike Force) which is comprised of agents and officers of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, the United States Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mr. GARCIA also acknowledged the critical contributions to the investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Nassau County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys DANIEL L. STEIN, ANJAN SAHNI, and RITA M. GLAVIN are in charge of the prosecution.