(JASPER COUNTY, Ind.) A traffic stop Tuesday in northwest Indiana led to the discovery of 40 pounds of the drug known as Khat, and sent two Chicago-area men to jail on felony charges of drug-dealing.
At 2:10 p.m., two Indiana State Troopers stopped a 2012 Toyota Corolla for a traffic violation on southbound I-65 about two miles south of the Winamac/Fair Oaks exit, a release from Indiana State Police said.
While speaking with the two men in the car, the troopers became suspicious of criminal activity. One of the troopers, who is also a canine handler, walked his K-9 partner Ryker around the vehicle. Ryker alerted the trooper to the trunk area of the Toyota and a subsequent search of the Toyota revealed a bed sheet in the trunk covering something, the release said. When the troopers opened the sheet, they found the bundles of Khat underneath.
The driver of the Toyota, 28-year-old Derald T. Pike of Bolingbrook, and his passenger, 31-year-old Walter T. Stevenson of Chicago, were taken to Jasper County Jail and charged with Dealing a Schedule 1 Drug (a Class B Felony) and Possession of a Controlled Substance (a Class C Felony).
According to state police, Khat is a flowering plant that is mostly grown in the Horn of Africa. It has a short shelf life (normally within two weeks) before it starts to lose its potency. Users of Khat usually chew it for the "stimulant-euphoric effect" it has. State police noted that Khat is sometimes wrapped in banana leaves, as it was in the Toyota pulled over on Tuesday, to keep it fresh longer.
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