After they might have thought they’d seen everything imaginable coming into Dulles International Airport through the years, last month U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered and seized baggage containing horsemeat, horse genitals, and yak milk.
Previous seizures have included “charred full monkeys, voodoo ceremony tools, cocaine concealed inside the cavity of fully cooked chickens, live sea horses and giant African land snails,” according to a statement from a CBP spokesperson.
On January 29, two women arrived at Dulles from Mongolia and were stopped for a routine agriculture examination. They were carrying “a combined 42 pounds of meat described as horsemeat and other ruminant meat, including 13 pounds of horse genitals, and three liters of yak milk.”
One of the women told inspectors the horse genitals were for medicinal purposes. Some of the meat had been packed into juice box packages.
The two women were released and were not criminally charged. The food products were incinerated.
If horsemeat is not accompanied by required certification from the government of origin, it is banned from entering the United States to guard against animal diseases infecting U.S. livestock industries, according to the statement.
On a typical day nationally, CBP agriculture specialists inspect over 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.
"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."
People entering the United States are encouraged to find out what they can and cannot bring with them at CBP's Travel website.