The eastern African drug Khat is being smuggled into Denmark at a troubling pace
Police believe most of the illegal drug, made from plants and chewed to release an amphetamine-like stimulant that causes excitement and euphoria, enters the country in lorries or vans from Mogadishu in Somalia via Amsterdam. Peter Baum, head of the Police and Customs division in Padborg at the German border, said the smuggling is extremely organised.
'The trade is in the hands of various clans within the country and is managed as professional as if they were dealing in hard drugs,' he said.
Police have only recently begun focusing on khat smuggling and last year confiscated 3.5 tonnes. But in apprehending some 940 kilograms of the drug this past January alone, officials know the amount getting through is enormous.
'It's just the tip of the iceberg. Our information tells us that between one and two tonnes are coming into the country every day,' Baum said.
Baum said one problem in curbing the smuggling is that the penalties for dealing are not severe enough. A person caught with 150 kilograms of khat would normally be sentenced to only 40 days mandatory jail time.
Another problem, according to Baum, is that khat is not considered to be particularly dangerous or widespread in its use.
'There isn't much attention given to it, as some think khat isn't especially euphoria-inducing. Our actions are often singular and are not followed up politically.'
Studies have shown khat use can create a psychological dependence much like that of marijuana. Its use in Denmark is generally isolated within the Somali communities, but Baum believes that use could spread.
In the Århus suburb of Gellerup, Abdullah Hashi has recently seen an increase in the drug's use among young people and has therefore started a khat prevention project.
'Khat is sold throughout the ghettos. Young people can't work or concentrate on school when they're on it,' he said.
Illegal drugs - another "benefit" of globalization.