Three people have been arrested after a two-month long undercover investigation resulted in the seizure of 24 pounds of khat in Cambridge on June 27, according to the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office.
Tiffany Marie Ford, 29, of Cambridge, was charged with four felony counts of 5th degree drug possession-subsequent conviction; Ahmed Ali Ahmed, 42, of Savage, was charged with felony, 4th degree drug sale; and Kelly Jo Jones, 49, of Cambridge, was charged with misdemeanor trespass.
Khat—pronounced “cot”—is a stimulant drug derived from a shrub that is native to East Africa and southern Arabia, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The khat plant itself is not scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act; however, because one of its chemical constituents, cathinone, is a Schedule I drug, the federal government considers its use illegal.
According to the criminal complaint, on June 27, a narcotics investigator with the East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force was contacted by an agent with the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team U.S. Customs and Border Protection out of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. The investigator was informed that a package containing 24 pounds of khat was en route from England to Memphis, Tenn., to Minneapolis and then to a residence in Cambridge.
The investigator was advised that since May 1, khat had been sent to the address under several assumed names and false businesses.
The investigator was informed that the package was confirmed to contain khat. A controlled delivery was arranged as the investigator dressed as a courier to deliver the package and was greeted by Jones outside her residence.
Jones told the investigators that Ahmed was in Cambridge to pick up the package of khat. She said she would call him when the package would arrive and he would pay her $150 for each delivery.
Ford, who is Jones’ daughter, was also in the residence when the search warrant was executed. Methamphetamine, as well as drug-related items and paraphernalia, were found in Jones’ and Ford’s bedroom.
According to a press release by the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department, shipping records were tracked showing that 380 pounds of suspected khat had been delivered to the Cambridge address since May 1.
Ford appeared before Judge P. Hunter Anderson in 10th Judicial District Court in Cambridge on June 29 where bail was set at $35,000 without conditions or $20,000 with conditions and next court appearance for July 5.
Ahemd also appeared before Judge Anderson June 29 where bail was set at $10,000 without conditions or $1,000 with conditions and next court appearance for Aug. 9.
Jones was issued a citation for her misdemeanor charge.
The East Central Drug/Violent Offender Task Force was assisted in the investigation by agents with the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Division through U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Minneapolis Airport Police Department. The Isanti County Sheriff’s Office and Cambridge Police Department also assisted on the search warrant