CBP Intercepts Biological Samples in Luggage

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By R. Mitchell –

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at George Bush Intercontinental Airport intercepted two vials of undeclared biological sciences, Jan. 10.

CBP agriculture specialists intercepted these biological samples when a traveler attempted to smuggle them in through a Houston airport. 

According to the 31-year-old traveler, a citizen of India, the vials contained liquid Cell Growth Medium for cell culture and was headed for Galveston, Texas.

“There are strict guidelines for importing biological materials,” said Houston CBP Port Director Shawn Polley. “This interception is an example of our commitment to seeking out illegal goods at our port of entry.”

The traveler did not declare the vials; instead, he only declared apples.  When CBP agriculture specialists examined his luggage, they discovered two small-unmarked tubes inside a plastic bag hidden among his clothes.

The vials underwent an exam to ensure that the substance did not contain any hazardous biological agents; field screen tests returned negative results.  Under oath, the traveler admitted the samples were used for body cell growth and cancer research.  The traveler was denied entry into the U.S. and chose to abandon the vials since they were not properly packaged and permitted.  Several U.S. agencies are working to settle the disposition of these materials.

Biological materials are categorized, permitted and regulated according to a variety of factors. These factors are determined by various federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and U.S. Department of Transportation.  More information about obtaining permits for biological materials is available at CDC.GOV.

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