Dried rodents, Italian meats, confiscated by customs officers at O'Hare

Customs officers at O'Hare confiscated more than 5,000 illegal items passing through the airport last month, including hatching eggs concealed inside a neck pillow, dried cow skin, and dried rodents.

In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists and their canines intercepted 5,162 prohibited items arriving through the International Mail Facility near O'Hare, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"CBP’s Agriculture Specialists mitigate the threat of non-native pests, diseases, and contaminants entering the United States," said Ralph Piccirilli, Acting, Area Port Director-Chicago.

The most commons items that were seized were pork and beef sausages, plants, plant materials, and wild game meat, the agency said.

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Hatching eggs hidden inside a neck pillow. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Among the more notable seizures were six dried rodents, including a porcupine, which were discovered in baggage arriving from Liberia, the statement said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took possession of the rodents, which are prohibited due to the risk of monkey pox.

Officials said another person attempted to bring in plants, fruits and vegetables, fresh leaves, and dried cow skin. The same passenger was fined in 2017 for not declaring plant and animal products, according to authorities.

In another seizure, customs officers inspected a package that contained 13 pieces of vacuum-packed Italian pork meat, including prosciutto, pancetta, fileto, salsiccia, 'nduja, and soppressata. Italy is currently affected with the African Swine Fever, swine vesicular disease, and classical swine fever.


An agriculture K9 also alerted officers to a package from the Congo that contained 30 pounds of unfinished animal parts believed to have come from a small antelope, like a duiker or steenbok. The body parts included legs, hooves, bones, and skins.

"The sheer volume of prohibited items our specialists intercept daily clearly shows how they play a critical role in preventing diseases from entering the United States," said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago Field Office.

The agency reminded passengers to make sure to declare all items brought into the country from overseas to avoid civil or criminal penalties.