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Press Release

Pennsylvania Man Admits Conspiring to Distribute 430 Kilograms of Khat

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Pennsylvania man today admitted to conspiring to distribute 430 kilograms of khat imported through Newark International Airport, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Azeez Adebari, 46, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of a mixture containing cathinone and cathine.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On April 21, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers identified a freight container suspected of containing khat that had arrived by air at Newark International Airport.  Khat is a flowering shrub that is abused for its stimulant-like effects and has no accepted medical use in the United States. Khat contains two active ingredients that are controlled substances:  cathinone, a Schedule I controlled substance, and cathine, a Schedule II controlled substance. 

CBP officers determined that the shipment contained approximately 430 kilograms gross weight of khat. The shipping manifest and other customs documentation identified the contents of the shipment as clothing, and ground melon and pepper, among other things. On May 3, 2021, Adebari, who was listed as the consignee on the shipment, arrived at Newark Airport to pick up the khat shipment and was arrested.  

The charge to which Adebari pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2022.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Department of Homeland, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark, and officers of CBP, under the direction of Marty Raybon, Acting Director of Field Operations, New York Field Office, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angelica M. Sinopole of the Organized Crime & Gangs Unit in Newark.

Updated September 16, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 21-413