More than 100 pounds of illegal cowhides and cured beef – which can carry disease – were found in baggage at a Virginia airport this month, federal officials said.
The animal products were found in the bags of two travelers, who arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport on a flight from Ethiopia on Sept. 7, when they were “referred for secondary baggage examinations,” according to a press release issued Monday by Customs and the protection of the American borders.
One of the passengers, who was traveling from Nigeria, first said she did not have any agricultural produce with her, CBP said. But she later “amended her statement to include cowhides.”
Agricultural specialists then examined his luggage and found 66 pounds of cowhides as well as about 2 pounds of wood bark, according to CBP. They also found “live insect larvae” when inspecting the bark.
The second passenger, who was from Cameroon, told authorities he was only carrying with him dried eru, which is an “African green leafy vegetable,” CBP said.
But an x-ray alerted authorities to “anomalies” in his bag, and agricultural specialists discovered 44 pounds of dried beef, over 4 pounds of wood bark, “many insects and potential plant diseases. “and soursop leaves, which are said to” have healing properties in Africa, “CBP said.
“According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cow hides and beef jerky are potentially carriers of highly contagious or fatal animal diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth disease, which could threaten food industries. our country’s livestock and ranching, âsaid CBP. . “This is why it remains prohibited to import unauthorized meat products from continents that have experienced animal diseases.”
Airport authorities took the illegal proceeds and “released the two travelers, who were destined for addresses in Maryland,” CBP said. They cremated the animal products and sent the insect specimens and the diseased plant to an entomologist and pathologist for identification.
CBP said that on a “typical day” last year, agriculturalists across the United States “seized 3,091 banned plants, meats, animal by-products and soil, and intercepted 250 pests at US ports of entry. “
“The threats to our country’s agricultural industries can take many forms,” ââCBP said. âFrom the deliberate act of agroterrorism to hitchhiking invasive insect species, to the unintentional act of travelers packing prohibited cultural food items in their luggage, the introduction of invasive insects or plant and animal diseases can have serious consequences on our nation’s economic security.