Two suspects were arrested with 148 kilogrammes of khat (miraa) at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.
The two foreigners had reportedly wrapped the khat in maroon nylon paper bags inside four large travel bags.
According to officials, the suspects failed to declare to the authorities that they were in possession of khat and it was only discovered during screening as they were preparing to depart for Norway. This comes less than a week after authorities at the airport seized 150 cartons of miraa that had been passed off as vegetables.
Officials said the cartons, labelled “Fine Beans and Ravaya”, contained French beans and eggplants but underneath, they were stashed with miraa.
The cargo was seized at the Airways Cargo Export section where it arrived aboard a vehicle. Six suspects were arrested.
- 1 Motion to cut miraa levies passed
- 2 Politicising miraa is gambling with lives
- 3 Miraa farmers get cash as body files case in court
- 4 Police intercept miraa concealed as fresh vegetables at JKIA
Police said there has seen a surge in attempts to export the stimulant and warned those behind the move of dire consequences.
In 2013, The Netherlands, which was then the biggest foreign market for miraa banned its sale, prompting outcry from Kenyan traders.
The United Kingdom was also a major market for the stimulant before banning it in June 2014. Kenya used to export about 20 metric tonnes of miraa weekly.
The UK banned the imports saying it risked becoming the new smuggling route for khat into Europe, where 15 of the European Union’s 27 states and Norway had already listed the stimulant as an illegal narcotic.
The remaining major miraa market is Somalia, whose unstable market occasionally affects the earnings from sales there.
Most of the miraa which was being taken to UK is now being consumed locally, and earns farmers, transporters and others significantly less money.