CHICAGO– Anyone that needs to do some shopping usually visits an e-commerce site to have items shipped to their door. However, e-commerce sites can also contain dangerous items that can harm the environment and introduce disease.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists (CBPAS) at the International Mail Facility (IMF) at O’Hare International Airport have seen these things and more in the past six months. CBPAS have intercepted 1,667 agriculture shipments containing prohibited items to include live moss bathmats, live snails, and human skulls.
The most common items CBPAS have seized are pork and beef sausages, plants, plant materials, seeds for planting, and live snails. These shipments may spike during the holidays and during certain seasons. More notable seizures in the past six months have been moss bathmats and human skulls.
On March 8, while working parcels at Chicago’s IMF, Agriculture canine Hitch alerted to three packages arriving from Poland. Upon Inspections it was found to contain three individual Live Pole Moss Bathmats. The Live Moss bathmats didn’t have a USDA Permit or Phytosanitary Certificate with the shipments and were destroyed by steam sterilization. This shipment could inadvertently introduce plant diseases, propagative materials and insects into the United States which could harm U.S. agriculture.
On March 29, a shipment arriving from the Netherlands that was heading to Iowa was inspected after x-rays showed anomalies. CBPAS inspected the parcel and found two skulls, and this was the first one of three shipments from the same sender. Each package had two skulls a piece for a total of six. The skulls were referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further disposition.
"Our nation's food supply is constantly at risk from pests and disease not known to occur in the U.S. These significant interceptions by our CBPAS at the IMF at O’Hare exemplify CBP's continued commitment to safeguarding American agriculture," said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago Field Office.
CBP recommends that people who wish to import plant materials, animal materials and other agricultural items consult the CBP Information Center section on the CBP website or call (877) 227-5511. Additionally, arriving passengers should always declare all items acquired abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties and reduce the risk of introducing pests and disease to the United States.
“CBP’s Agriculture Specialists mitigate the threat of non-native pests, diseases, and contaminants entering the United States.” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director-Chicago. “CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspections, inspecting tens of thousands of international passengers and cargo shipments at our air, land and sea ports of entry.”
CBP’s border security mission is led at 328 ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders. Learn more about CBP at www.CBP.gov.