Hank Investigates: Prohibited Packages

BOSTON (WHDH) - Passengers just off an international flight, arriving at Logan Airport.

And in their luggage, could be invasive insects, dangerous diseases and destructive pests.

In our look behind closed doors at Terminal E…

Hank: “All this was brought in by passengers arriving at Logan?”
Angel Portalatin, Supervisory US Customs & Border Protection Agriculture Specialist: “Correct.”
Hank: “And is it allowed?”
Portalatin: “Nope.”

We found US Customs and Border Protection fighting to stop what arriving passengers may be carrying in their suitcases. Things like fruit, flowers, meat, seem harmless but they can devastate crops, make livestock sick and even kill you.

Clint Lamm, Boston Area Port Director, US Customs & Border Protection: “People need to be aware of the seriousness of the risk they are taking when they’re bringing in prohibited items. ”

Prohibited items is what Haven the sniffer beagle is trained to find.

Here, checking arrivals from Amsterdam, she finds fruit that can bring medflies, fungus and scale—all which could ruin US crops.

Again and again, she alerts on possible contraband.

Sarah Olson, Agriculture K-9 Specialist, US Customs & Border Protection: “When she sits she is certain and she won’t move away from them I know they have something in their bags.”
Hank: “Even though they tell you they don’t?”
Olson: “Correct.”

Special officers screen for prohibited meats, they might carry deadly “Hoof and Mouth” or Mad Cow disease and more.

Portalatin: “There’s animal diseases we don’t have in the United States.”

Soil, plants and vegetables must be screened for gypsy moths, bugs and those Asian longhorn beetles. Those already wiped out thousands of trees in Massachusetts.

Every bag carries potential danger.

Hank: “How many contraband items did you seize last year?
Lamm: “The Boston field office, we seized over 43,000 prohibited agriculture items.”
Hank: “43,000?”
Lamm: “Correct.”

In a package of rice, look!

Hank: “This rice has bugs in it!”

Look inside this mango.

Hank: “It might be infested?”
Murshidul Hoque, PhD, Specialist, US Customs & Border Protection: “Yes.”

Officials know sometimes it’s downright smuggling, but most of the time, when passengers grab a banana at an overseas airport or grab some souvenir goodies, know they’re carrying a threat.

What’s allowed and what isn’t? There’s a whole list we’ve put on our website. And you better know because if bring in a prohibited item without telling officials you could face a $10,000 fine.

US Customs and Border Protection:



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