In just a few weeks, from April 6 to June 6, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, intercepted 19,555 pounds of prohibited pork, chicken, beef and duck products arriving from China.
Most of the unmanifiested animal products were commingled in boxes of headphones, door locks, kitchenware, LCD tablets, trash bags, swim fins, cell phone covers, plastic cases and household goods in a clear attempt to smuggle the prohibited meats.
CBP agriculture specialists identified, examined and seized 12 shipments containing a total of 834 cartons which lacked the required USDA entry documentation.
According to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, China is a country affected by African swine fever, classical swine fever, Newcastle disease, foot-and-mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza and swine vesicular disease.
"Our close collaboration with our USDA strategic partners has resulted in an increased number of prohibited food products interceptions in a relatively short period of time," says Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. "CBP agriculture specialists remain committed and vigilant of foreign animal disease threats."
In the first five months of fiscal year 2020, the interception of prohibited meats from China at the LA/Long Beach Seaport has increased 70% compared with the same period the year before.
"Foreign plant pests and animal diseases like ASF and exotic fruit flies can cause devastating losses to the agriculture industry. USDA and CBP are committed to working together to intercept illegal products and protect the health of U.S. livestock and crops," says Helene Wright, USDA State Plant Health director for California.
Chinese animal products are in high demand in certain communities in the United States. Smugglers attempt to bring those products which are later sold in markets. Many consumers are not aware of the importation restrictions.
"Every day, CBP agriculture specialists protect the livelihoods of American farm workers, our food supply and ultimately our nation's agriculture prosperity," says Donald R. Kusser, CBP Port director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport.
When unmanifiested animal products are discovered, CBP reports the violation to the USDA and issues an emergency action for the expedited destruction of the contraband.
Pork products from ASF-affected countries may introduce the virus to the United States, crippling the domestic pork industry and U.S. pork exports valued at $6.5 billion annually. AFS is spread by contact with an infected animals' bodily fluids.