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Jury rejects Somali family's civil-rights claims over failed drug bust
by Mike Carter
A federal jury in Seattle has rejected claims by a Somali family that their rights were violated when armed narcotics officers entered their home without announcing themselves during a 2006 federal crackdown on the illegal stimulant "khat."
Ali Dualeh, his wife and their five children were taken into federal custody by members of the Valley Narcotics Task Force, under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as part of a national crackdown called Operation Somali Express.
Dualeh was never convicted of a crime.
The national raids — including 17 searches and 19 arrests in the Seattle area — targeted a national distribution network of the leafy herb known as khat, which is illegal in the U.S. but commonplace in the Horn of Africa, where it has been chewed for centuries as a mildly euphoric stimulant.
Dualeh had initially claimed that officers roughed him up and pointed firearms at his wife and young children — the oldest was 8 at the time during the raid at their Kent home. His wife claimed that she was forced to remain in the presence of the officers without wearing a head scarf, in violation of her Muslim beliefs.
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