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5 convicted in khat smuggling case face sentencing

Friday - 8/10/2012, 2:29am  ET

khat.jpg
Khat is a drug popular in East Africa. (Courtesy U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)

Many drug runs began at Dulles

Khat ring involved international travel, child couriers. WTOP's Neal Augenstein reports.

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - The first of 13 men and women convicted of smuggling millions of dollars' worth of the illegal African drug khat (COT) are facing possible prison sentences.

Five of the 13 are scheduled for sentencing Friday in federal court in Alexandria following their convictions in a monthlong trial earlier this year.

Authorities say it was one of the largest khat smuggling rings they ever disrupted. It imported nearly 10,000 pounds, worth roughly $5 million, into the U.S.

Khat is popular in Somalia and Yemen, the native countries of the defendants. Users chew the leaf to release stimulants that produce a mild high.

The defendants are asking for minimal or no jail sentences, saying they were casual users of a product common in their culture.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)