Los Angeles—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Los Angeles International Airport, recently seized seven ivory tusks, one hippopotamus tusk and seven purses made of ostrich, stingray, crocodile and elephant skins inside several suitcases belonging to a U.S. citizen arriving from Europe.
On June 27, CBP officers referred a passenger for a baggage examination. The passenger, a 63-year-old woman, who traveled from Greece via Germany, provided a negative declaration to CBP officers about the items she was bringing into the country. An x-ray examination of the passenger's three suitcases and a large rectangular metal box revealed a tusk-like object in the box that the passenger said was an “elephant tooth” from her deceased uncle’s estate.
CBP officers consulted with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents which confirmed that all 15 items were prohibited from importation under the Endangered Species Act.
CBP officers seized seven ivory tusks, several of which were carved into statues, one hippopotamus tusk, two ostrich-skin purses, one stingray leather purse, a purse made of elephant hide, and three crocodile purses.
“Enforcing laws that protect endangered animal life by aggressively preventing the illegal introduction of these products into the U.S. is one of the many aspects of the CBP border security mission,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “CBP enforces hundreds of U.S. regulations for other agencies in addition to immigration and trade laws.”
The CBP primary mission is anti-terrorism. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.