Over 1,000 shipments of prohibited items such as live moss bathmats, live snails and human skulls have been seized at O'Hare International Airport over the past six months.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists, the most commonly seized items are pork and beef sausages, plants, plant materials, seeds for planting and live snails.
On March 8, Agriculture canine Hitch signaled to three packages arriving in Chicago from Poland, which were found to contain three individual Live Pole Moss Bathmats.
Officials noted that the Live Moss bathmats didn't have a USDA Permit or Phytosanitary Certificate. The shipments were subsequently destroyed by steam sterilization.
"This shipment could inadvertently introduce plant diseases, propagative materials and insects into the United States which could harm U.S. agriculture," CBP said in a release.
On March 29, a shipment arriving on the Netherlands on its way to Iowa was inspected by CBPAS after x-rays showed animalities. Upon inspection, officials found two skulls.
CBPAS added that this parcel was the first of three shipments from the same sender. Each package had two skulls, for a total of six. The skulls were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for disposition.
"Our nation's food supply is constantly at risk from pests and disease not known to occur in the U.S. These significant interceptions by our CBPAS at the IMF at O’Hare exemplify CBP's continued commitment to safeguarding American agriculture," said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, director of CBPAS field operations-Chicago field office.
CBP recommended that people who wish to import plant materials, animal materials and other agricultural items consult the CBP Information Center section on their website or call (877) 227-5511.
Arriving passengers should declare all items acquired abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties and reduce the risk of introducing pests and disease to the U.S., officials said.