The drug ring smuggled the drug from Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya into New York and beyond, according to a 215-count indictment unsealed Friday in Brooklyn by the state’s Attorney General.June 28, 2018 (New York Daily News) — An international ring that distributed an illegal chewable substance called Khat has been stamped out, authorities announced Friday.
Seventeen members of the alleged drug ring that brought tons of the euphoria-inducing plant from Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia to the city and beyond were charged in a 215-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn by the state’s Attorney General office.
Khat’s leaves and stems are chewed in their fresh form and contains an amphetamine-like stimulant. It’s legal in many parts of the world, including Kenya and Ethiopia were it’s primarily cultivated, and has been used socially in Yemen for thousands of years.
But Khat is illegal in the United States and most other western countries, earning that designation in the United Kingdom this Tuesday.
“Khat is a dangerous and illegal drug with worldwide reach,” said state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Trafficking often funds other criminal activity.”
Because the substance isn’t processed, traffickers needed to operate quickly.
The ring was allegedly headed by Yadeta (Murad) Bekri, 23, of England, who would arrange for large shipments of Khat to various UPS locations in Manhattan.
His alleged cohorts, or managers, would then pick up the packages. Some were observed on surveillance carrying 25-pound boxes to Brooklyn’s Islamic Society of Flatbush and numerous storage facilities, according to court papers.
The drug was then sold upstate and in parts of Ohio and Massachusetts with the proceeds laundered in Minnesota — where Bekri’s girlfriend lives — and sent back to England, Dubai and other locations, the authorities alleged.
“Through the far-reaching capabilities of our joint law enforcement partners, these criminals can be tracked down and brought to justice wherever they are located,” said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Those arrested include mostly men from Brooklyn, Queens and Rochester, NY. While 14 were collared, two have yet to get picked up.
The ringleader Bekri was on a plane to Minnesota Friday for a visit with his girlfriend Ibsitu Hashi, 34, a source said.
Marshals are expected to greet him upon arrival and take him into custody.
Source: New York Daily News