CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) – As worry over the coronavirus continues to spread among travelers, airport officials say there are many other threats that people try to bring into the air as well.
It’s the job of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agriculture specialists to protect airport agricultural industries.
“We see roughly 100 passengers here in our area and … about 50% of them usually have something we wind up taking,” said Christopher Brewer, chief agriculture specialist at Washington Dulles International Airport.
A CBP agriculture specialist’s day-to-day duty is seizing prohibited items, including things such as poultry, ginger, crop foods, dead animals and much more.
“A lot of times people want a taste of home, so they’ll try and bring anything they can in to get that taste of home or they’ll have family that they want to bring it to as a gift,” Brewer said.
Earlier this year agricultural specialists discovered a package of pet food that consisted of tiny dead birds in a traveler’s baggage from China. Brewer said he and his colleagues have seen even stranger things people try to check-in.
“Some of these items here that are considered traditional Asian medicine. Llama fetus, that was one of the weird things we’ve taken here, a passenger was bringing it in because he thought it would help take care of a sick relative here they wanted to make tea from it,” Brewer said.
Brewer and his colleagues also get help from K-9 officers that sniff out unauthorized items in luggage.
Valerie Woo, Agriculture Specialist K9 Handler said, “My K9 partner’s name is Philip. He’s a 2-year-old Beagle, and our job is to screen passengers and baggage coming in on international flights and we walk mostly around the baggage carousel.”
Airport officials said it’s always better to declare items on board, prohibited or not, so you won’t be subject to high fines.