Customs officers in the Twin Cities intercepted from the Far East three air shipments that included various prohibited items, among them skins from a badger and from a water buffalo, officials said Monday.
The packages roused the suspicions of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on March 21, soon after their arrival at a global shipping company's facility near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the agency announced.
"CBP's agriculture specialists mitigate the threat of non-native pests, diseases and contaminants entering the United States," read a statement from Augustine Moore, area port director-Minnesota.
According to CBP officials:
A shipment from Hong Kong was inventoried as a ceramic plate, but an inspection revealed food items that included 7 pounds of prohibited beef and pork sausage.
A package from Laos included 16 pounds of prohibited material that included tubers and root stock that required proper certification that they are free of harmful pests. The items were removed and examined. However, further inspection detected a layer of wood ships that concealed what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services verified was a badger skin.
A shipment from Thailand was labeled dried bamboo shoot but actually contained water buffalo skin.
All the intended recipients, located around Minnesota, were notified that their shipments were either seized in full or had the prohibited items removed before shipping went ahead.
"Our nation's food supply is constantly at risk from pests and disease not known to occur in the U.S.," LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, director of field operations in the Chicago field office, said in a statement. "These significant interceptions by our agriculture specialists ... exemplify CBP's continued commitment to safeguarding American agriculture."