Elephant tails, dried hedgehogs and chicken blood probably weren't on the top of your packing list the last time you traveled.
But U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized all of that and other animal parts and plants from one suitcase at Washington Dulles International Airport.
CBP spokesman Steve Sapp said Thursday that the items were taken on Dec. 3 from a 59-year-old man who was traveling from Ghana. The passenger said the items were used for spiritual purposes.
Officials did not release the name of the man, who was en route to Maryland, because he has not been charged with a crime.
The suitcase contained two elephant tails, bloody sheets, five chicken feathers, chicken blood, a dried hedgehog, two dried chameleons, grass, seed pods, tree bark chips and a jug filled with soil, herbs and blood, authorities said.
"This is by far one of the strangest suitcases we've ever opened," said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for Washington.
The passenger had declared to CBP only that he was carrying dried herbs and clothing.
Most of the items were incinerated, CBP officials said.
"Regardless of its intended purpose, each item posed potentially severe animal and plant disease threats to American agriculture," Hess said.
The elephant tails were not destroyed and were turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The tails violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
CBP said the passenger was told about the U.S. regulations. The main consequence he faces, Sapp said, are that he had to give up his suitcase and all of its contents.
He was also given a warning and is likely to have to undergo secondary inspections from CBP agriculture specialists on future trips to the United States, Sapp said.
CBP seized nearly 31,000 prohibited plant and animal products from travelers arriving at Dulles in the last fiscal year.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/virginia/2010/12/animal-parts-blood-found-suitcase-dulles-traveler-0#ixzz17kcpuZ5i
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