Man arrested with $250,000 worth of rare drug, cops say

Man arrested with $250,000 worth of rare drug, cops say

By Larry Hartstein

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s legal in much of Europe, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but the khat plant is an illegal narcotic in the United States.

Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force Hussein Dahir Sheikaden, 31, is charged with drug trafficking and failure to maintain lane.

The khat plant is an illegal narcotic in the United States, but is legal in many other countries around the world.

Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force The khat plant is an illegal narcotic in the United States, but is legal in many other countries around the world.

Authorities said they arrested a Stone Mountain man driving with at least $250,000 worth of the drug. He was stopped last week on I-75 in Bartow County for failure to maintain his lane. Then a K-9 deputy discovered two suitcases with 400 bundles of khat shoots and twigs, the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force said.

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The task force commander, Capt. Mark Mayton, said it’s the first time he’s seen khat in 20 years of law enforcement.

“The drug is unique compared to most other illicit drugs because it has an extremely short shelf life and has no legitimate medical use,” Mayton said. “Within approximately 40 hours of being harvested, the chemical compounds begin to change, which alters the effects of the drug. When khat is [chewed], it produces stimulant-type effects very similar to those of methamphetamine.”

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Deputies arrested Hussein Dahir Sheikaden, 31, and charged him with drug trafficking and failure to maintain lane. He’s a Somali native in the U.S. on a work visa, Mayton said.

“We believe he was a ‘mule’ transporting it for someone else,” Mayton said

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