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Dried bat, horse's tail and 37 crocodile teeth - the strange items people try to smuggle into Ireland

The contraband originated in countries including Cameroon, Indonesia, India and Japan.

Image: Shutterstock/Dino Geromella

A HORSE’S TAIL, a dried bat, a moose horn and 37 crocodile teeth were among the strange items that people tried to smuggle into the state by post during the past two years.

The contraband originated in countries including Cameroon, Indonesia, India and Japan; and was seized by customs’ anti-smuggling teams based at An Post’s mail centre in Portlaoise.

All animal-related imports must undergo a veterinary inspection before entering the jurisdiction, while the movement of certain species is completely banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

A package containing 89 dried insects was intercepted by the Customs Division of Revenue in Portlaoise in May 2018. The parcel had been posted from Cameroon, where insects are a popular delicacy.

In July 2018, anti-smuggling personnel seized a package that contained two exotic beetles, which were alive when they reached the mail centre, having survived the long journey from Japan.

A total of 37 crocodile or alligator teeth from the United States were discovered in a parcel during the same month, while a dozen eggs from the US were also seized the next day.

A horse’s tail and a calf rawhide from Australia were seized separately at Portlaoise Mail Centre on the same date in June 2017. A moose horn from Canada was intercepted two months later.

Other animal-related seizures during 2017 and 2018 included a dried bat from Indonesia, and seven “bird cape feathers” from India.

In 2016, a consignment of eight alligator heads, an active bird nest, and a package containing up to 4,000 live bees were seized at the mail centre. At Dublin Airport during the same year, a hippo’s tusk, a crocodile head and a number of conch shells were among the animal-related items seized.

A spokesperson for Revenue said that its Customs Division has anti-smuggling teams stationed at all main ports and airports, as well as at the country’s main postal depots.

“Packages received in postal depots are subject to risk profiling, post clearance auditing and other post clearance controls,” the spokesperson said. 

“Revenue officers routinely profile such importations and carry out x-ray examinations and physical examinations based on risk assessment, and with a focus on detention and seizure of smuggled and prohibited goods, to include certain wildlife or animal imports,” he said.

The spokesperson said that details about the criteria used to profile packages could not be revealed for operational reasons.

“Revenue has primary responsibility for the detection, interception and seizure of prohibited goods intended to be illegally imported or smuggled into the state, and ensures that legislation in respect of prohibitions and restrictions is complied with,” he added.

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Darragh McDonagh

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