Ivory Among Endangered Species Products Seized from Passenger at LAX

Ivory carvings and an elephant skin purse were among 15 items seized at LAX. Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

The U.S. Customs and Border Control confiscated seven ivory tusks, a hippopotamus tusk and purses made out of ostrich, stingray, crocodile and elephant skins from a passenger who arrived last week at Los Angeles International Airport.

The U.S. citizen, a 63-year-old woman, had returned from Greece via Germany, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Although the woman gave a “negative declaration about the items she was bringing into the country”, an elephant tusk showed up in her luggage during the x-ray.

An x-ray examination of the passenger’s three suitcases and a large rectangular metal box revealed a tusk-like object in the box that the passenger said was an “elephant tooth” from her deceased uncle’s estate.

Further examination revealed 15 items prohibited by the Endangered Species Act: Seven ivory tusks, several of which were carved into statues, one hippopotamus tusk, two ostrich-skin purses, one stingray leather purse, a purse made of elephant hide, and three crocodile purses.

Todd C. Owen, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles, explained that enforcing the Endangered Species Act is part of his organization’s mission.

Enforcing laws that protect endangered animal life by aggressively preventing the illegal introduction of these products into the U.S. is one of the many aspects of the CBP border security mission.

No arrests were reported.


Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.