U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped an attempt to smuggle one million pounds of pork from China to a New Jersey port on Friday, resulting in the biggest seizure of agricultural product in American history. This comes on the heels of African swine fever (ASF) raging through China and devastating the hog population in the world’s largest pork-producing country.
“This was highly orchestrated,” said Stephen Maloney, the Customs and Border Patrol’s acting port director for the Port of New York/Newark. He said this was a concerted effort to conceal product.
More than 100 CBP agricultural specialists and K-9 teams worked to uncover the prohibited food. The pork was smuggled in various different ways from ramen noodle bowls to Tide detergent containers, said deputy chief agricultural specialist Basil Liakakos.
In some cases, the packaging in the shipment matched the products on the manifest, authorities said, but the contents inside were prohibited pork. In other cases, the pork was simply packaged among the other products.
CBP teams are working hard to keep ASF, a highly transmissible, deadly virus of pigs, out of the U.S. ASF does not affect humans, but is rapidly spread to domestic pigs and wild boars. The ASF virus survives 150-180 days in fresh meat. In frozen meat, reports say the virus can live indefinitely.
Officials announced this seizure of more than 50 shipping containers during a press conference Friday morning at a warehouse in Elizabeth, N.J. According to a NJ.com article, three rooms were filled wall-to-wall with packages of the illegally smuggled pork products.
“Agriculture specialists made a critical interception of these prohibited animal products and stopped them from entering the U.S. before they could potentially cause grave damage,” said Troy Miller, director of Customs and Border Protection Field Operations in New York/Newark.
Once all 50 shipping containers have been examined, the confiscated products will be incinerated, Miller said. At this point, it’s an ongoing investigation, Anthony Bucci, a CBP public affairs specialist told Bloomberg.
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