CINCINNATI—In early April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists in Cincinnati were inspecting several large bags of dried chili peppers imported from Thailand when they noticed something strange about the contents of the shipment.
Taking a closer look, the specialists found multiple prohibited wildlife products, including numerous dried frogs and insects and the remains of an endangered primate. The shipment was addressed to someone in Buffalo, New York. In a separate Thailand shipment, specialists found more than 22 pounds of turtle bones.
“Our agriculture specialists work to protect our U.S. crops and food supply each and every day,” said Cincinnati Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan. “Often, we encounter shipments like these, which are of interest not only to CBP but to other federal agencies as well. Our specialists are trained to identify products of concern for more than 40 regulatory agencies, and they excel at pinpointing shipments that are worthy of a closer look.”
The shipment was referred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Office of Law Enforcement, where scientists presumptively identified the primate as an endangered lorisidae that is protected under CITES Appendix I. The turtle bones were identified as soft-shelled turtles that were potentially CITES listed as well.
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors, along with Customs and Border Protection, continue to produce excellent results by impacting the illegal wildlife trade,” said Supervisory Wildlife Inspector Denise Larison. “Wildlife trafficking remains a significant threat to thousands of plant and animal species around globe. Thanks to this great partnership, we were once again able to prevent the unlawful importation of protected species and disrupt the illegal market for these precious animals."
CBP agriculture specialists inspect plant and animal products imported into the United States to prevent the transmission of foreign pests and diseases to American agriculture commodities.
CBP conducts operations at ports of entry throughout the United States, and regularly screens arriving international passengers and cargo for narcotics, weapons, and other restricted or prohibited products. CBP strives to serve as the premier law enforcement agency enhancing the Nation’s safety, security, and prosperity through collaboration, innovation, and integration.