Atlanta - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport intercepted a collection of endangered sea turtle eggs, officials announced today.
Thirty-five freshly harvested sea turtle eggs were found within the luggage of a passenger arriving from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The eggs had already deteriorated beyond the chance of survival when discovered.
CBP agriculture specialists routinely seize goods confiscated from passengers who either inadvertently bring prohibited items into the country or blatantly ignore laws banning importation of certain items.
Sea turtles and their eggs are protected by both the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The goal of CITES is to ensure that international trade in animals does not threaten their survival.
"Late summer typically marks the beginning of sea turtle egg harvest season in parts of Central America when sea turtles make their way onto the beaches of the Central American coast of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Our agriculture specialists are aware of the possibility of passengers from these areas having the potential to be carrying these items during this time of the year," said Stephen Kremer, CBP area port director for Atlanta.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the primary agency responsible for enforcing CITES in the U.S. CBP works in tandem with FWS to ensure CITES is enforced at every port of entry in the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.