A pallet full of boxes labelled as henna leaves turned out to be 113kg of illegal stimulant khat, Customs revealed on Saturday.

Khat is a chewing stimulant that is extremely popular in north-east Africa and the Arabian peninsula and is illegal under local law. 

Boxes containing the suspicious substance. Photo: Malta CustomsBoxes containing the suspicious substance. Photo: Malta Customs

A shop owner in Ħamrun who was to receive the substance was subsequently arrested and is expected to be arraigned in court. 

The shipment, which was being stored at one of the airport’s cargo sheds, was flagged to members of Customs’ airfreight section as suspicious by releasing officials. 

Inspectors checked boxes and noticed that a green substance inside 59 packets did not match the consistency or smell of the henna product they were labelled as. 

Suspecting that the substance was khat, Customs officials called in the police anti-drug squad. Lab tests confirmed that the boxes contained the illegal substance.

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