KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agriculture specialists keep an eye on what produce, plants, pets and animal products are coming across U.S. borders. In their inspections, they have often found some outrageous items.
Here is a list of what CBP says ate the top 10 agricultural finds of 2021 from throughout the United States:
750 unfertilized avian eggs were found in Memphis
In April, CBP agriculture specialists at the Port of Memphis inspected a shipment from China heading to New York City. Inside the shipment, 750 unfertilized avian eggs were found. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China is currently affected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, both of which are highly contagious and fatal to the U.S. poultry industry and various avian wildlife.
The eggs were not accompanied by any documentation detailing the genus or species, nor was there any indication of their purpose, so they were destroyed.
2,000 pounds of marijuana found within a shipment of papayas
In February, CBP officers at the commercial facility at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry seized more than 12,000 pounds of marijuana found within a shipment of papayas. During a secondary inspection, a CBP narcotics detector dog immediately alerted to the shipment, and officers discovered 873 wrapped packages of marijuana.
15 live giant land snails
CBP agriculture specialists working at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston intercepted 15 live giant land snails from a passenger’s luggage in early July. The passenger was traveling from Nigeria and initially only declared dried beef, but later amended her declaration to include live snails. During an examination of the passenger’s luggage, agriculture specialists found three plastic zip-closed bags containing the live snails with fresh leaves and about a quarter pound of beef.
11 kilograms of pork sausages from Dominican Republic
In August, CBP agriculture specialists assigned to the Boston Logan International Airport encountered a 35-year-old female arriving from Santiago, Dominican Republic. During a baggage examination, 11 kilograms of pork sausages were discovered. Just a month prior, Dominican Republic officials confirmed the presence of African swine fever, a highly contagious disease of wild and domestic swine, that can spread rapidly in swine populations with extremely high rates of morbidity and mortality. The sausages were turned over to a USDA hauler for destruction.
Pork, ham and turkey found hidden under seats
CBP agriculture specialists assigned to the Paso Del Norte Border Crossing seized 320 pounds of pork bologna and 30 pounds of turkey ham in August. The meat had been hidden under blankets, under the seats, center console, and inside a duffel bag. The individual was issued a $1,000 civil penalty, and the products were confiscated.
27 vials fo Botulinum and E. coli DNA plasmids
In September, a traveler arriving from Japan reluctantly declared he was in possession of Botulinum and E. coli DNA plasmids intended for research. An inspection conducted by CBP agriculture specialists revealed 27 vials of the biological material. The traveler lacked the required documents required by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC was consulted and, after reviewing the samples, agreed that more information was needed to determine admissibility. The traveler returned to his country with the biological materials.
Butterfly larvae pests found inside pineapples
Also in September, CBP agriculture specialists at the Port of Gulfport discovered a butterfly larvae pest, informally known as the Saunders 1850, while inspecting a shipment container of pineapples from Costa Rica. Due to the potential impact to U.S. agriculture, the shipment of pineapples, worth $15,000, was destroyed.
According to USDA, this was the first time this species had been discovered in the United States.
2 primate arms found in Minneapolis
In October, CBP’s agriculture team in Minneapolis discovered six large bags containing clothing, two primate arms, dry fish, cooked snails, plant material, cow skin, bushmeat and eru plant material. After notifying the CDC, the team seized the primate arms and bushmeat and destroyed them according to USDA protocol. The seeds were submitted to USDA for identification. According to CPD, handling and consuming bushmeat can lead to health problems, including the potential transmission of ebola and monkeypox viruses.
47 chickens hidden in a vehicle coming into Texas
A total of 47 live roosters and hens were found wrapped in stockings inside a purse, and underneath the seats, floor mats, inside the glove compartment and trunk of a vehicle in Laredo, Texas in the SENTRI lane. A $500 penalty was issued to the driver for attempting to import prohibited agriculture items while being a SENTRI card holder. The SENTRI card was turned in to the SENTRI Enrollment Center, the vehicle was seized by CBP under 19 USC 1595, and the live poultry were seized and transferred to USDA’s Veterinary Services.
Peppers from Guatemala with fake papers
In December, CBP agriculture specialists in Newark encountered a shipment of fresh peppers from Guatemala. During document review, the provided phytosanitary certificate, which must be used to facilitate importer plants and plant products, was blurry, and an original certificate could not be found. It was later discovered that the certification was fraudulent, which can alter the options for phytosanitary actions that must be taken to prevent the entry of plant pests, prohibited plant products, or animal products capable of introducing foreign animal diseases.
In the 2021 Fiscal Year, CBP issued 73,917 emergency action notifications for restricted and prohibited plant and animal products entering the United States, conducted 630,150 positive passenger inspections, and issued 7,190 civil penalties and/or violations to the traveling public for failing to declare prohibited agriculture items.