Exotic Animal Skins Seized at Santa Teresa Port of Entry
Santa Teresa, N.M. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Santa Teresa port of entry seized hundreds of pieces of exotic animal skins September 28. The skins and wallets made from exotic skins were turned over to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. The driver of the vehicle was assessed a $500 penalty.
"CBP officers enforce hundreds of laws for dozens of federal agencies including fish and wildlife," said CBP Santa Teresa Port Director Joanne Thale-Lembo. "This incident was a clear case of someone trying to circumvent laws intended to protect wildlife."
The seizure was made late Thursday when a 2009 GMC entered the port from Mexico. The driver of the vehicle made a negative declaration for any goods to the CBP officer working the primary inspection booth. The vehicle was sent to the secondary inspection area where the driver again made a negative declaration. CBP officers examined the vehicle and located several bundles of exotic snake skins and snake skin wallets in the center console. The driver told CBP officers that he knew it was illegal to import the items and that is why they were hidden. CBP officers recovered 332 python skins, six python skin wallets and five armadillo skin wallets. The driver was assessed a $500 penalty for failure to declare. The seized items were turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers' primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.
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.