Six people were remanded on Monday on suspicion of financing, developing and distributing an illegal drink made from khat leaves.
The suspects were arrested over the course of the past several days, with the sixth suspect arrested on Sunday upon his return from a trip abroad. Yossi Malka, a known leader of a Jerusalem-based organized crime gang, is among the arrested men.
In recent weeks, police received information that the drink was being sold in various kiosks around Jerusalem. Agents went to several of these locations and bought bottles of the suspect drink, and sent them to police laboratories for testing.The primary distributor of the drinks was based in a kiosk in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of the capital.
Last weekend, police raided the laboratory and central warehouse where the drink was stored, confiscating some 15,000 bottles.
The drink was produced at an organic agricultural farm called Gat Eden near the city of Nes Ziona. According to police, the suspects made labels calling the drink “Green Energy”.
Police sources said that the suspects will be charged in the coming days.
Khat leaves contain two amphetamines, cathinone and cathine. Among the positive effects are a sense of euphoria, increased alertness, and relief from fatigue. However, they also present several health risks, including depression, irritability, increased blood pressure and heart rate, loss of appetite and insomnia.
In June, the Knesset Health Committee determined that while chewing khat leaves is permitted because the amount of cathinone and cathine ingested is too small to present any dangers, it is illegal to make or sell drinks made from khat leaves.
Beginning in 2003, a pill called hagigat, made from extracted cathinone, was legally sold in kiosks around Israel. However, after several cases of hospitalization because of the pill, the Health Ministry classified cathinione as a dangerous drug and outlawed hagigat.
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