Typically, “seized by Customs” brings to mind the usual suspects; gold, jewels, counterfeit goods, even people. However, there exists a whole world of unique and strange “things” that get intercepted during the attempt to smuggle them into the country (occasionally even leaving the country). During the last few months, I have come across some rather fascinating articles about the absurd possessions that people attempt to sneak past customs (or forget to declare). From African Snails to Ivory Bagpipes, here are some of the strangest possessions seized by Customs.
The “Good Luck” Primate Skull
Who wouldn’t want a “Good Luck” Primate skull? What a perfect piece for the mantel! This skull was taken from a Russian traveler that purchased it in Togo, Africa. Sadly, the sullied nature of this luck charm presented a very unfortunate avian disease risk, and it had to be disposed of. Shucks!
Read here how dead bats and a primate tooth Voodoo necklace suffered a similar fate. Personally, I don’t think I would want the bad juju from taking a Voodoo Priest’s prized necklace.
A Batch of Giant African Snails
The credit for this excellent internet find goes to Tyler Zaichkin. These half-pound monster snails were purportedly intended for human consumption(or perhaps vice versa?). Unfortunately for the importer, it seems that Customs deemed these burly beasts a threat to the U.S. agricultural system and had them incinerated.
The Ivory In Those Scottish Bagpipes
Recently, a van full of teenage bagpipers, who had just performed in Canada, was prevented from crossing the border for attempting to transport Ivory into the U.S. The Ivory in question was a functioning part of an heirloom set of bagpipes handed down from a grandfather to a grandson. In a rare turn of events they were able to get the bagpipes back, but not before being issued a cool five hundred dollar ticket. Why? For crossing at a “non-designated crossing”. Read the whole article here.
(Honorable Mention) Noah’s Ark, Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport is certainly not in the U.S. However, this is a rather bizarre case of what happens with exotic animals after the attempt to traffic them through Heathrow Airport is thwarted. Enter Noah’s Ark at Heathrow Airport, where exotic (usually endangered) animals are stuck until airport authorities can ship them back home. More about this animal oasis here.
(Honorable Mention) $1 Million Dollars Worth of Counterfeit Guitars
While not common, counterfeit guitars are certainly not out of the realm of reasonable targets of things to be counterfeited. This deserves an honorable mention out of the sheer volume of goods confiscated by Customs. That is a lot of knockoff guitars! The picture barely does justice to the quantity seized.
Other Odd’s and End’s
For a look at some other odd items specific to Kennedy Airport, check out this link. Scroll near the bottom to find a plastic juice container full of salami. Delicious!
An excellent ploy, let’s just write “Toy Train Model” on the side of the box, Custom’s would never think to X-ray our shoddily packaged container. What was inside? Find out here.