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Seahorses, snakes and snail ointment seized from US airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DULLES, Va. (WISH) — “Lively” wouldn’t be the word to describe a recent seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection when agents found dried seahorses, dead snakes, snail ointment, and prohibited pork items.

Two August seizures at Washington Dulles International Airport involved two travelers arriving from Vietnam. The first person, headed to Fairfax, Virginia, was told to undergo a secondary baggage examination. That’s when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors found the random items.

“The import of the seahorses, snakes, and snail ointment without the necessary permits or documentation violated several laws and regulations, including provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Lacey Act,” CBP said in a Wednesday release.

According to CBP, the U.S Department of Agriculture bans uncertified pork products from entering the U.S. because it can introduce “dangerous African swine fever and swine vesicular disease.”

The second traveler, headed to San Francisco, arrived at Dulles a few days later. Again, a second inspection turned up prohibited items. This time, USFWS wildlife inspectors confiscated four prohibited pork products and 50 small boxes of a commercial herbal liquid medicine that listed its ingredients as snake oil.

“Though we may consider some animal-based products to be unusual, people in other parts of the world may consider them to be normal,” Christine Waugh, CBP’s acting area port director for the area port of Washington, D.C., said. “However, travelers visiting the United States should understand that Customs and Border Protection is committed to protecting our nation’s agricultural industries and enforcing our wildlife and import laws which may result in the seizure of their animal-based products. CBP agriculture specialists continue to work side-by-side with our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners to educate travelers by holding them accountable when they arrive with illegal or prohibited products.”

CBP agriculture specialists seized all prohibited products and turned them over to USFWS inspectors. The USFWS investigation continues.