CBP Seizes Mother of Pearl, Ivory, Reindeer Items
HOUSTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) inspectors intercepted two separate shipments earlier this week that contained animal parts that are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The shipments included elephant (Elephantidae species) ivory piano keys, a reindeer (Rangifer tarandus species) hat and 12 Mother of Pearl (Mollusca species) shell inlaid picture frames.
"While our primary mission is to protect the nation from terrorists and their weapons, we do take the opportunity to disrupt criminal activity regardless of the scale of the offense," said CBP Area Port Director Dave Fluty. "CBP enforces hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations on behalf of other federal agencies including enforcing the Endangered Species Act."
The shipment, which was seized May 9, included a disassembled piano, 50 ivory piano keys and a reindeer hat imported from Spain and destined for Austin. The items in this shipment were listed only as wooden furniture. CBP officers seized this shipment because the importer failed to include information regarding the endangered species parts found in the shipment.
The Mother of Pearl shell inlaid frames were seized May 7 because the importer did not have appropriate documentation to import or export this endangered species and the importer failed to declare that the items were in the shipment. This shipment originated in China and was destined for Houston. This shipment was manifested as gift bags, glasses, scarves and other items.
These two shipments arrived separately to the U.S. in mid-April but were seized last week because USFW officials were able to make positive identification of the items.
"CBP officers and agriculture specialists do not make identification on items arriving to the U.S.," Fluty said. "Instead, we make initial inquiries to the appropriate agencies and their specialists take images and samples of items for positive identification. Once scientific analysis determines the items are prohibited, the appropriate agencies request CBP seize the items pursuant to the appropriate federal law, regulation or statute."
The shipments were seized and turned over to USFW.
While many people may recognize that ivory is on the endangered species list, many may be surprised to learn that reindeer and mother of pearl are also found on the list. Information regarding importing items can be found at CBP.gov.
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.