Customs agents seize mystery meat at Newark airport

Leonard Greene, New York Daily News

They weren’t sure if there were any bats, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Newark Liberty Airport weren’t taking any chances — seizing a cache of mystery meat from a passenger entering the country from Africa, authorities said Tuesday.

Nine pounds of “bushmeat” was seized from a passenger traveling from Ghana Sunday as he went through customs at the airport, according to an agency spokesman.

The passenger, who’s a US citizen, declared the meat to a Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist.

But staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention realized the parts, which were brown in color, were from wild animals and ordered it destroyed, officials said.

“The Center for Disease Control identified the meat as bushmeat and advised CBP to seize and dispose of the meat in accordance with CDC guidelines,” Troy Miller, director of field operations at the bureau’s New York field office, said in a statement.

“CBP Agriculture Specialists made critical interceptions of these prohibited animal products and stopped them from entering the United States before they could potentially cause grave damage to our agricultural and economic vitality.”

According to the CDC, bushmeat is derived from non-human primates, bats, civets, or African rodents, which are potential vectors of human diseases.

Medical experts have said the global coronavirus pandemic may have origins in bats sold in open-air markets in China. The virus was first detected in China’s Wuhan province.

It’s not immediately clear what animal the meat came from, or where the passenger got it. The passenger didn’t face any repercussions because he declared the meat.