Mohamed Jafif attempted to smuggle 27 kilos of “khat” into the Capital after he had travelled to Scotland from North Africa around 18 months ago.
But after being stopped by Border officials, Jafif tried to pass the drugs off as packs of dried tea leaves. Following forensic testing the 12 packages discovered in the Dutch national’s luggage were found to contain £27,000 of Catha Edulis – commonly known as khat.
The leafy plant – a stimulant most commonly chewed – is popular among Africans living in the UK but was declared illegal in July 2014. It is currently a Class C drug.
It is believed Jafif’s conviction is the first of its type in Scotland since the drug was made illegal, and he has now been banned from entering Edinburgh Airport for three years.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told Jafif, from Leicester, had travelled with the drugs to Edinburgh from Djibouti and then Dohar on July 7, 2015.
Fiscal depute Roseanne Chapman said: “The accused was stopped by Border officials at Edinburgh Airport.
“He was asked standard questions such as where he had come from and how long had he been away?
“He was also asked if he was aware of the contents of his luggage. He said he was aware.
“His bags were then searched and phones, a passport and numerous packages of herbal matter were recovered. When asked about the matter he claimed it was tea, but did confirm ownership.
“He confirmed he had packed his bags himself and that the herbal material was tea. He said a friend gave him it.”
Ms Chapman added 12 packages were found within Jafif’s luggage, containing 27 kilograms of the drug which could yield a street profit of around £27,000.
Solicitor Nigel Beaumont, defending, said his 52-year-old client had “extensive contacts and friends within the Somali community” and had travelled to Edinburgh from North Africa as it was the cheapest flight back to the UK he could find.
Mr Beaumont added: “He did not understand this was illegal. There is some confusion over dried khat.”
The brief said Jafif is a father-of-six boys and the drug “loses its potency when it is dried”.
Sheriff Frank Crowe said: “As far as I know we don’t have people chewing khat in Edinburgh. This is the first time I think we have had a case of this type. I don’t understand the abuse of this drug to be a problem in this area and I don’t want it to become a problem. We have enough problems with alcohol, heroin, cocaine and legal highs.”
Sheriff Crowe sentenced Jafif to a three-year Asbo – effectively banning him from entering Edinburgh Airport for the next three years – and ordered him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work in the community.