Sheriff Ron Ridley reports that on 06/29/2012 at approximately 3:50AM deputies from the Hodgeman County Sheriff’s Office recovered a large quantity of the illegal drug, khat, during the execution of a traffic stop.
Deputy Brandon Mitchell and Deputy John Whistler conducted a traffic stop in the 1300 block of Main Street in Jetmore and during the stop observed drugs in passenger compartment and conducted an interview of the driver. Based on the interview and the drug evidence in the car the driver, Liban Ali, 39, of Omaha Nebraska was taken into custody initially for possession of khat. A subsequent search of the vehicle found that Ali was transporting a large quantity of the drug in the trunk of the vehicle along with packaging material to sell or distribute the drug.
Subsequent to the stop, members of the Southwest Kansas Drug Task Force including the Hodgeman County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Dodge City Police Department conducted searches of a residence and a business in Dodge City which were connected to Ali.
Khat is a plant grown primarily in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and is a stimulant that has been likened to methamphetamine, amphetamines, or cocaine. The substance is a drug of abuse and is in high demand by immigrants from East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti. The United States Department of Homeland Security places special attention on the illegal importation and distribution of khat as there is a significant history of cases in the U.S. where the illegal proceeds are being used to fund terrorist activities at home and abroad.
“Dodge City has a significant population of immigrants from the nation of Somalia and as a result there is a demand for khat in this area. We believe this load was being transported on the last leg of its trip to Dodge City from a location in Nebraska for distribution,” Sheriff Ridley stated. “We seized more than 23 pounds of khat during this stop and we will be working with the Task Force, Nebraska authorities, and federal officials as the investigation continues to develop.”
Ali is currently being held in the Hodgeman county Jail on charges of Possession of Khat, Unlawful Distribution of Khat, felony Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Violation of the Tax Stamp Act and Driving while Suspended.