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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Pennsylvania Man Charged with Conspiring to Distribute 430 Kilograms of Khat

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

Azeez Adebari, 46, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is charged by complaint with one count of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of a mixture containing cathinone and cathine. He made his initial appearance by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward S. Kiel on May 3, 2021, and was detained.

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 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 count with which the defendant is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of 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 the charges.

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

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 4, 2021