Officials seized a dead primate; 387 snake, lizard and crocodile skin handbags; and nearly half a pound of elephant meat over the course of a few days earlier this month at Los Angeles International Airport, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- May 6 - Reptile handbags seized during baggage inspection of 31-year-old man arriving on a flight from Nigeria.
- May 9 - Elephant meat seized at the International Mail Facility.
- May 10 - Primate seized at the International Mail Facility.
Jill Birchell, special agent in charge for Fish and Wildlife in California and Nevada told the Press-Telegram that "several of these were endangered species and under the highest level of protection."
The Asian elephant meat originated in Thailand and was bound for Fresno. It was found tucked inside plant material.
"It's a highly endangered animal" Birchell said. "There's no international trade whatsoever with that animal."
The primate, headed to Florida from Indonesia, had been declared a "gift."
"It appears that the primate, since it was stuffed, was either going to be displayed by someone in their home or it might have been intended for some scientific purpose," Birchell said. "It did have the appearance of a scientific specimen. It was preserved. "
CBS LA reports that the handbags were made out of protected animal skins including:
- 98 of African rock pythons
- 19 of monitor lizards
- 85 of dwarf crocodiles
- 179 of cobras
- 6 puff adder snakes
All of the items were turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.