U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists have seen unusual things in traveler baggage at Washington Dulles International Airport over the years, from charred full monkeys to voodoo ceremony tools, cocaine concealed inside the cavity of fully cooked chickens, to live sea horses and giant African land snails. On Jan. 29, two women arrived from Mongolia with horse meat concealed inside juice boxes, including 13 lbs. of horse genitals that one woman claimed were for medicinal purposes.
After the women deplaned, CBP officers referred them for a routine agriculture examination. There, CBP agriculture specialists discovered a combined 42 lbs. of meat described as horse meat and other ruminant meat, including 13 lbs. of horse genitals and three liters of yak milk.
Horse meat is prohibited from entering the United States if it is not accompanied by an official government horse meat certification from the country or government it originates. Otherwise, CBP treats it as unknown ruminant meat and seizes it due to fears of foot and mouth disease. Horse meat from Mongolia is prohibited because of concerns of introducing animal diseases to U.S. livestock industries.
“Customs and Border Protection takes no pleasure in seizing and destroying travelers’ food products,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “We’re in the business of protecting America’s agriculture industries, like the livestock industry, from the potential introduction of animal diseases posed by these unpermitted food products.”
CBP incinerated all of the food products. Neither woman was criminally charged and were released by CBP officers.
Often travelers bring with them food products from their countries that is normal to their cultures; however, some items are prohibited from the United States and CBP will seize those products upon arrival. CBP encourages all travelers to learn what they can and cannot bring into the United States at CBP’s Travel section.
“Safeguarding America’s agriculture industries and by extension our nation’s economy, remains an enforcement priority for Customs and Border Protection. It is a mission that we take very seriously,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore, the agency’s operational commander in the mid-Atlantic region.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. Learn more about CBP’s agriculture protection mission.
On a typical day nationally, CBP agriculture specialists inspect more than 1 million people and air and sea cargo imported to the United States. Those inspections net an average of 404 agriculture pests and diseases and 4,638 materials for quarantine, including plant, meat, animal byproduct and soil every day.