Odd little things: CBP airport inspectors keep potentially hazardous items out and grounded

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Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Washington Dulles International Airport share how they protect travelers

CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM)– As worry over the coronavirus continues to spread among travelers, airport officials said there are many other threats that people try to take into the air as well.

You’ll find many security officials at Dulles International Airport dedicated to keeping travelers safe, but U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agriculture specialists are the few that protect airport agricultural industries.

Christopher Brewer, chief agriculture specialist said: “We see roughly 100 passengers here in our area and […] about 50% of them usually have something we wind up taking.”

A CBP agriculture specialist’s day to day duty is seizing items that don’t belong with travelers. Airport officials said these items include things like poultry, ginger, crop foods, dead animals, and much more.

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“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,” said Brewer.

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 a four-legged friend that sniffs bags, suitcases and luggage.

Valerie Woo, agriculture specialist K9 handler said, “My K9 partner 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.

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