Hogsett Announces Sentencing of 11 Guilty of Trafficking New Drug in Indianapolis
Prosecution of Indianapolis Residents for Khat Trafficking Among First in the Nation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 03, 2012|
INDIANAPOLIS—Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced this morning the successful prosecution of 11 individuals charged with trafficking in cathinone, often called khat, a new drug being imported into the Indianapolis area from eastern Africa. Two of the defendants, Hussein Ahmed and Handule Mohamed, were also convicted of laundering the proceeds of the drug offenses through Dahabshil, Inc., a money service business operating in Indianapolis.
“These sentencings mark the successful conclusion to one of the first khat trafficking prosecutions anywhere in the country,” Hogsett noted. “In this case, we have a powerful example of how effective law enforcement can be when working collaboratively to combat new and growing dangers to our community.”
The defendants admitted to conspiring with individuals overseas to import a drug called cathinone, a stimulant found within the khat plant. Khat is a tall, flowering evergreen shrub cultivated and harvested throughout the Horn of Africa, including Kenya and Ethiopia, and has begun to be smuggled into the United States in recent years.
The majority of the khat plants involved in the charged conspiracy were shipped from the Horn of Africa to the Netherlands or the United Kingdom, and then forwarded to conspirators residing in Indianapolis through mail carriers such as UPS and FedEx. The cathinone found within the seized khat plants acts as a stimulant, and is similar to amphetamine. During the investigation, the FBI seized in excess of 400 kilograms of khat being transported between Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. The street value of the drugs law enforcement seized during the investigation was in excess of $400,000.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthias D. Onderak and Cynthia J. Ridgeway, who prosecuted the case for the government, U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence sentenced the defendants as follows:
- Jama Mire, age 25, 16 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Hassan Rafle, age 30, 12 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Siyad Awale, age 44, 12 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Yusuf Mohamed, age 27, nine months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Hussein Ahmed, age 32, seven months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Abdikadar Hodan, age 25, six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Mohamed Hersi, age 50, six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Abdi Ahmed, age 37, six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Hashim Ahmed, age 27, six months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release;
- Halima Omar, age 49, six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release;
- Handule Mohamed, age 38, two weeks in prison, followed by two years of supervised release.
Many of the convicted defendants worked as Indianapolis taxicab drivers. Evidence introduced at trial included several incidents in which the defendants were high from chewing the narcotic drug, but were still driving patrons around the city or waiting for passengers.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Fishers Police Department, along with many other federal, state, and local partners.