Customs and Border Protection agents at Dulles International Airport in Virginia seized 42 pounds of horse meat and horse genitals hidden in juice boxes, officials said Thursday.
The incident happened in late January, officials, said when two women arrived at the airport from Mongolia. One of them said she had food in her bags and after a check officials found 42 pounds of meat, which she described as horsemeat and other “ruminant meat” in her belongings. It was mostly hidden in juice boxes that had been cut open, stuffed with meat and then taped together.
Among the meat, officials also found 13 pounds of horse genitals, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“We open their bags and it is sitting there staring right at us,” said Stephen Sapp, a spokesman for the department.
There were also three liters of yak milk. One of the women told officials the genitals were to be used for medicinal purposes. The horse meat and yak milk were for consumption, officials said.
The horse meat was seized and destroyed. Horse meat is prohibited from being brought into the United States if it does not have a proper certification from the government or country that it came from, according to Customs and Border Protection.
If the meat does not have the needed certificates, it is destroyed (incinerated) because of concern of foot and mouth disease, according to Sapp. Horse meat from Mongolia is not allowed into the U.S. “due to concerns of introducing animal diseases to U.S. livestock industries,” the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said in a statement.
“It was not for legitimate food purposes if you’re concealing it,” Sapp said. “We had no certification from the Mongolian government that it was horse meat and had been inspected.”
Neither of the women was criminally charged, officials said, and they were allowed to go on their way.
Travelers are allowed to bring food products from other countries but certain things are not allowed.
This isn’t the first time someone has tried to bring unusual items through Dulles, where more than 1 million travelers and pieces of cargo go through screening by agriculture specialists daily. Once a traveler tried to sneak cocaine in baggies inside the cavity of fully cooked chickens.
A woman tried to bring items for a voodoo ceremony in her suitcase. Agents found a bedsheet with brown stains on it that turned out to be blood. After examining her bags agents found squirrel bones and skulls.
There have been live sea horses and giant African snails.
A visitor from Africa arriving for his nephew’s college graduation brought charred monkeys. They had been smoked, Sapp said.
“We open his suitcase and three faces are looking back at us. There they were with teeth and everything looking back at us. It was a sight to behold,” he said.
As the agency’s news release said, “So it seems that after a while, the oddity is not so odd anymore.”
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