Nogales, Ariz. —U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry made an unusual seizure earlier this week.
Officers conducting a routine inspection of a sedan attempting to enter the United States from Mexico on Tuesday discovered a suspicious mask that appeared to be covered with dried blood and chicken feathers, which led them to turn the inspection over to CBP Agriculture Specialists.
During questioning of the vehicle’s occupants, inspectors learned the mask was prescribed by a curandero (native healer) as a remedy for insomnia. The mask was seized because of the chicken blood and feathers. Although there was no penalty issued for the seizure, the mask was destroyed by incineration.
“While the seizure is somewhat unusual, the mask contained materials of a prohibitive nature that have the potential of transmitting avian diseases” said Agriculture Program Manager Tracy Filippi. She added, “CBP Agriculture Specialists work hard every day to protect American agriculture from potential threats.”
For more on the USDA, APHIS, PPQ program, please visit the USDA APHIS website.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international passengers and cargo, and seize prohibited meat, plant materials, animal products and insect pests.