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Posted at 3:34 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

What not to pack: Bloody sheets, animals

By Washington Post editors

When Customs and Border Protection officials ask travelers to open a suitcase for further inspection, they frequently find themselves wading through a few unmentionables. But it's rare those unmentionables include elephant tails, a hedgehog and bloody sheets.
Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists seized and incinerated the suitcase contents of a Ghanaian passenger who arrived at Dulles International Airport on Dec. 3, 2010. All of the items, reportedly to be used in a spiritual ritual, are prohibited from entry into the United States as potential threats to American agriculture. (CBP Photo/Handout)

On Dec. 3, a passenger from Ghana opened his suitcase for Customs agriculture specialists. Staring back at them was five chicken feathers, two elephant tails, two dried chameleons, one genet skin, grass, pea and seed pods, tree bark chips, soil, a water jug containing soil, herbs and blood and the sheets covered with blood from a sacrificed chicken.

The passenger said that the items were to be used for spiritual purposes.

For the record, it's prohibited to bring such items into the United States; they pose a potential threat of introducing exotic animal and plant diseases into the country.

The passenger abandoned the suitcase items. Customs officials issued him a warning and released him. Everything but the elephant tails were incinerated. They were a violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. An inspector from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seized them.

By Washington Post editors  | December 9, 2010; 3:34 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Virginia  
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