COLUMBIA CITY â€” An Illinois man first stopped in Columbia City for speeding appeared in Whitley County Circuit Court Monday on charges relating to a controlled substance.
Batbayer Tsagaan, 54, of Cicero Ill., said he was traveling from Illinois to Ohio.
According to a Whitley County Sheriff Department case report July 25, Det. Gary Archbold was asked to make the scene of a traffic stop being conducted by Officer Scott Leatherman.
After he arrived at the scene, Leatherman said he stopped Tsagaan for speeding, and during the stop, discovered a large amount of a plant material in the back seat.
Leatherman said he believed the plant material was Khat, or Catha Edulis, a plant material that is chewed.
The plant is native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Cathinone, the plantâ€™s active ingredient, is a controlled substance.
Archbold told Leatherman to place Tsagaan into custody and to begin the process of impounding the vehicle and creating an inventory of its contents.
According to the report, Leatherman said he counted 159 bundles of the plant, which were later recounted and transported to the Whitley County Drug Task Force evidence room.
Tsagaan is charged with dealing in a controlled substance, a class B felony, possession of a controlled substance, a class D felony and maintaining a common nuisance, a class D felony.
According to the report, Tsagaan told Archbold he picked up the plant material in Chicago, which was shipped from London, and he planned to go to Columbus, Ohio to deliver it to a friend.
Tsagaanâ€™s bond was set at $50,000, and he is ordered to appear back in court Aug. 27 for a pre-trial conference.