The largest bust in the state of Wisconsin for an exotic narcotic was made in Ripon late last year as part of an international investigation.

   Between $10,000 and $15,000 of khat, a drug most often used by Somalis, was seized in Ripon after the community became an unwanted rest stop for the drug on its way to Minneapolis.

   “This is a significant interception [for us] and I think for any agency in the state it would be a significant amount,” Ripon Police Chief Bill Wallner said.

   Riponites likely aren’t familiar with khat.

   Pronounced “cot,” the Ripon Police Department describes it as a “plant material that is native to eastern countries of Northern Africa ... Khat contains two controlled substances, cathinone and cathine. Information on the DEA’s website says khat’s effects are similar to other stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and it can cause manic behavior, delusions, paranoia, nightmares and hyperactivity. Chronic abuse can lead to violence and suicidal depression.”

   It’s been banned in America since 1993, but the drug is so rare in Wisconsin that only four such busts were made in the state in all of 2018.

   The biggest occurred Nov. 30, 2018, in Ripon thanks to an eagle-eyed local business owner.

Read the full story in the Feb. 7, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.