Police Seize Contraband Khat worth 11mln Birr

Police have intercepted 11 million Birr worth of Contraband Khat from smugglers in Ethiopia’s eastern border, customs officials said on Thursday.

In a statement, the Ethiopian Customs Commission (ECC) said the contraband Khat haul was seized in its Dire Dawa and Jigjiga branches earlier this week.

The seizure was carried out by the customs and federal police earlier at checkpoints near Somalia and Djibouti. The two countries were the destinations for nearly a quarter of khat exported last year.

The Commission said most of the total seizure was made in the Jigjiga branch’s Togo Chale post through joint efforts with the federal police.

“A vehicle loaded with 8.7 million Birr worth of ‘first quality’ was intercepted after it tried to break through a security checkpoint in Togo Chale,” the Commission said.

Similarly, Dire Dawa customs and federal police seized 2.3 million Birr worth of Contraband khat during a search at the Dure checkpoint.

“Their joint effort led to the seizure of 1,548 kilograms of contraband khat being smuggled out of the country with no tax or customs duty paid,” ECC added.

Customs officials appreciated both customs and federal law enforcement agencies for their joint work as well as the support from the public.

Ethiopian customs commission further said smuggling activities have adverse effects on the nation’s economy. ECC seized close to 2.7 billion Birr in the first quarter of the current 2020/23 fiscal year alone.

Its officials said combating contraband should not be left alone to customs offices, appealing to all concerned actors and the public’s support to tackle the menace.

Ethiopia loses significant revenues due to contraband and illicit trading practices such as under-invoicing in Khat export.

The cash crop is also becoming one of the country’s major export earners. Ethiopia reportedly exported almost $392 million worth of Khat during the last fiscal year.