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Baltimore CBP Seizes Banned African Elephant Ivory Jewelry from Nigerian Visitor

Release Date: 
May 3, 2013

BALTIMORE—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture canines are adept at detecting plant and animal products in passenger baggage. But "Trooper" sniffed out more than just avocados in a 57-year-old Nigerian man's checked bag April 25 at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized several pieces of jewelry made of banned African elephant tusk ivory from a Nigerian man at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport May 1, 2013.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized several pieces of jewelry made of banned African elephant tusk ivory from a Nigerian man at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport May 1, 2013.

During a baggage examination, CBP agriculture specialists also discovered several pieces of prohibited African tusk ivory: a carved elephant tusk; two ornately carved bracelets; and a necklace made of a mix of bone and ivory. CBP detained the jewelry and released the man to continue his visit.

An inspector from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspector determined Tuesday that the pieces were made of banned ivory. CBP seized the jewelry Wednesday and turned it over to the USFWS inspector.

Poaching of endangered African elephants for their ivory tusks remains a serious international conservation concern. As such, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) continues to ban international commerce in African tusk ivory among its member nations.

According to a CITES report in 2012, elephant poaching levels are the worst in a decade and recorded ivory seizures across the globe are at their highest levels since 1989.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in collaboration with USFWS, enforces CITES regulations as well as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at our nation's borders.

"Enforcing laws that protect endangered animal life by aggressively preventing the illegal introduction of these products into the U.S. is one of the many aspects of Customs and Border Protection's border security mission," said Ricardo Scheller, port director for the port of Baltimore. "CBP enforces hundreds of U.S. regulations for many other agencies in addition to enforcing our traditional international trade and immigration laws."

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

To learn more about CITES regulated products.

The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) administer the ESA. As of January 2013, the FWS has listed 2,054 species worldwide as endangered or threatened, of which 1,436 occur in the United States.

Read USFWS Endangered Species Act Fact Sheet.

CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international sea cargo and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, stolen vehicles, counterfeit merchandise, prohibited agriculture products and other prohibited items.

In addition to narcotics interdiction, CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture products or other illicit items.

Travelers are encouraged to visit CBP's Travel website to learn rules governing travel to and from the U.S.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017