Twenty live giant millipedes were intercepted at an international mail facility on Friday at San Francisco International Airport, authorities said.
The discovery was made by an agricultural specialist who noticed an anomaly in a large package from Germany that was routed through an x-ray machine, according to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The package, which was marked “toy car model,” contained a large plastic box that opened to reveal 20 foot-long millipedes inside a large mesh bag, the release stated.
“Customs and Border Protection officers and agriculture specialists routinely x-ray and inspect packages arriving from foreign locations for contraband and other prohibited items before they are permitted to enter the U.S.,” said Brian J. Humphrey, the Customs and Border Protection director of Field Operations in San Francisco. “The agriculture specialists on duty were quick to notice the deception and took the necessary action.”
It is not illegal to import exotic animals into the country, but certain permits and documentation are required by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The package did not have the required permits, according to the release, which added it was “misrepresented” in order to bypass the regulations.
The millipedes were turned over to the USDA for investigation.