Sunday, May 1, 2011
4th District Vice sends a powerful message to drug dealers!
Several months ago Officer Qasim Thomas of the Fourth Districts Crime Suppression Team (CST) started an investigation into what he believed was a major narcotics trafficker operating inside the Fourth District. Officer Thomas had received information that a business and the owner of that business, that was operating in the 5300 block of Georgia Avenue was trafficking in large amounts of Catha Edulis (a shrub which grows in the southern part of Arabia and Eastern Africa, and primarily in the countries of Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Also known as Khat, Qat, and Quat [pronounced cot]. The leaves of this plant contain the alkaloids cathine and cathinone, and are chewed for the stimulant effects). In fresh form, Catha Edulis (Khat) is a schedule I narcotic under the Uniformed Control Substance Act, in its dried state or none fresh form it is a schedule IV narcotic. Khat starts to break down within 48 hours of being harvested.
Officer Thomas and his partner, Officer Robert Arroyo of CST, started a detailed investigation. Officer Thomas and Arroyo conducted surveillance of the location and developed additional leads and information into how the organization was operating. The officers were able to determine that the business was obtaining shipments of Khat from overseas and the business was being used as a primary distribution point and location where individuals could stay and use the substance. The information that the officers obtained indicated that the business owner was the ring leader of the operation.
The officers gained information that the business was about to receive a shipment of suspected Khat from two different overseas locations. Officer Thomas and Arroyo were able to interdict five cartons that were being shipped to the business prior to its arrival. Officer Thomas obtained a Federal Search Warrant for those cartons and found that they contained nearly 104 kilograms of suspected Khat. Officer Thomas had made prior arrangements with the Drug Enforcement Administrations Laboratory to have the seizure analyzed immediately to determine its Schedule. The DEA lab was able to determine that the cartons did in fact contain Khat and it was still in its Schedule I state. The lab further advised that the traffickers had devised a method for allowing the Khat to stay “fresh” longer.
Based on this information and all the information gathered during the investigation, Officer Thomas applied for a District of Columbia Superior Court Search Warrant for the business located in the 5300 block of Georgia Avenue Northwest. Once Officer Thomas obtained the search warrant, he arranged to have CST and the Fourth District Vice Unit execute the warrant at the location. The units executed the search warrant at the location and they were able to seize over 36 kilo’s of additional suspected Khat, U.S. Currency and additional evidence of drug trafficking.
Officers Thomas and Arroyo took the initiative to investigate this major trafficker of the not commonly known narcotic Catha Edulis. Their investigation lead to the seizure of nearly 140 kilograms of Khat which had an estimated street value of over $95,000, and lead to the arrest of a major drug trafficker operating within the Fourth District. Officers Thomas and Arroyo should be commended by all, for their outstanding service and taking the initiative to see this investigation through.
John R. Haines
Vice, Auto Theft, and
Crime Suppression Units
Posted by Ward 4 at 9:41 AM