Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Los Angeles International Airport have quite a bit more to deal with than guns and drugs; Agents are going after smuggled food that could bring disease into the country.
CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein looked into how they sniff out the contraband.
“These are actual deer horns,” said Customs Officer Robert Ceniceros.
Another agent finds a bird’s nest in someone else’s luggage.
This is just part of what is being seized from passengers in the hidden underground at LAX.
“This is a serious problem. It’s a threat to the agriculture here in The United States, especially for California,” Ceniceros said.
LAX is the second busiest airport in the country for international travel behind John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Millions of pieces of luggage travel through LAX and it is up to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to find items that could contain disease – in something as innocent as a piece of fruit.
“What I see here – it looks like live plant fungus,” Ceniceros said while looking at a kiwi.
Many of the items are brought in innocently by passengers who don’t know what they can or can’t bring into the country. Others are cleverly concealed, like this package that looks mushrooms but is really meat. The meat could come from a country with swine flu or mad cow disease, which might endanger our stock.
Many of the items, like some deer antlers that are found cut up, are delicacies in some parts of Asia, but banned in this country.
A beagle named “Tyco” is one of the many dogs that help the customs officers sniff out potential dangers inside luggage at the Bradley International Terminal.
One customs officer showed Goldstein a large stash of things seized in just two days at LAX, each one innocently brought in by passengers, but these items could potentially cause serious harm in the U.S.