CINCINNATI—In the last few weeks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists in Cincinnati have intensified their inspection of e-commerce shipments coming into the United States.
The growth of e-commerce has increased the international trade of plant and animal products, which also increases the potential introduction of foreign pests and diseases into the United States.
“CBP Agriculture Specialists use their extensive training and comprehensive agriculture safeguarding systems to protect American agriculture and the American economy,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “We present a unified front to prevent the introduction of dangerous and invasive pests and diseases into the United States.”
Most shippers and importers follow regulations governing the trade of agriculture commodities; however, some attempt to smuggle prohibited plant and animal products into the U.S. using a variety of means including false information, such as fictitious shipper names and addresses, or even by providing incorrect and unrelated cargo descriptions.
“Our Agriculture Specialists continually inspect shipments that contain regulated agriculture products, and they excel at intercepting smuggled and mis-manifested e-commerce shipments,” said Cincinnati Supervisory CBP Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan.
CBP Agriculture Specialists have discovered prohibited meat hidden in fish packets, candy wrappers, and tea bags, fruits inside sealed cookie bags, loose and packaged seeds within candy wrappers, and seeds in foil-lined bags in an effort to avoid x-ray detection. Specialists regularly find illegal food items such as fresh fruits, eggs, propagative plant material, and animal products coming from countries with known virulent disease outbreaks such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and endemic concerns such as the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), Khapra beetle, and many plant diseases.
Recently, specialists intercepted a shipment manifested as “glass trophy,” that contained hatching eggs coming from Malaysia. The eggs were individually wrapped in tissue paper and bubble wrap, then placed in bags of sawdust hidden beneath layers of artificial flowers.
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.