Narcotics Delivery Intercepted - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Narcotics Delivery Intercepted

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LA VERGNE, Tenn. - A massive and mysterious wooden crate delivered to Middle Tennessee Tuesday night contained something that could generate money for terrorism.

Someone sent 300 pounds of khat, a little-known drug. It's estimated worth is $250,000.

The shipment came from France, but the plant is "a flowering evergreen shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula," according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Web site.

"Khat that is sold and abused is usually just the leaves, twigs, and shoots of the Khat shrub," according to the DEA Web site.

It is typically chewed like tobacco. While illegal in the United States, khat is legal in much of Europe, East Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, according to the DEA.

La Vergne police intercepted the delivery thanks to the assistance of a shipping company.

La Vergne Police Sgt. Mike Mullen said the only other time he came across khat was a Middle Tennessee State University student who used it to stay awake as they studied.

La Vergne police knew busting the buyer behind the delivery required careful planning.

Police DEA agents and SWAT team members mapped out a worst-case scenario, but hoped for the best outcome.

The delivery driver and undercover sergeant found no answer at the address provided.

"That's satisfying to me just knowing that those drugs are off the street and nobody gets harmed or nobody gets hurt," said La Vergne Police Chief Ted Boyd.

According to authorities, the 500-pound shipment was labeled "undeliverable." The buyers with the tracking number likely found that designation, got suspicious and ran.

Police said money used from khat sales often goes to pay for vehicles used in car bombs and other forms of terrorist attacks.

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