A parcel mailed from an undisclosed African country to Zhuhai containing 16.44 kilograms of an amphetamine-like substance has been intercepted, the Judiciary Police (PJ) announced in a special press conference yesterday. The interception was made in cooperation with mainland authorities, police said.
According to the PJ’s spokesperson, Lei Hon Nei, the parcel contained a total of 16.44 kilograms of Khat (Catha edulis), a plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and contains alkaloid Cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, used for several purposes including the suppression of appetite and euphoria, also known as “Arabian Tea.”
The plant, particularly its dried leaves, which were found in the parcel, is said to be able to be consumed by chewing, as a form of tea or even as a substance which is smoked. The substance found within the package had a market value of between MOP150,000 and MOP180,000.
According to Lei, this was the first time that such a substance was found by the police in the territory.
The interception started on April 18, when mainland authorities detected the parcel in transit from its origin country in Africa with the transit destination being Beijing and final destination planned for Macau.
At the time, the parcel had been already under suspicion of containing drugs and the police authorities in Macau were called to intervene.
Arriving to Macau through the Lotus Flower Border Checkpoint, the parcel was to be further delivered by an express courier company located in the central district.
After an inspection by the authorities and confirmation that the parcel contained drugs, the PJ is said to have removed the drugs from the box and replaced it with tea, asking the express courier to continue with the delivery process.
On May 3, the company delivered the parcel to a shop located at the border gate area, but the shop was not the final destination and there was another order to reship the box back to Zhuhai through the border gate checkpoint.
Upon arrival at the final destination and in cooperation with the Chinese authorities, the local police arrested two men, aged 30 and 34 years old respectively, who are accused of being the recepients of the drugs which were in PJ’s possession.
The World Health Organization classified Khat as a drug of abuse capable of producing psychological dependence in 1980, although the same organization does not consider Khat addiction to be seriously problematic.
In some countries such as the Canada, Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, use of the substance is controlled but not deemed illegal. Meanwhile, its production, sale, and consumption are legal in countries such as Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen, where Khat leaf chewing is seen as a social custom dating back thousands of years, similar to the use of coca leaves in South America and betel nut in Asia.