PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Federal authorities in Philadelphia have seized about 300 leeches from Bulgaria in air cargo shipments. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that officers recently intercepted nine postmarked jars for addresses in Connecticut, Florida and Illinois between Feb. 19 and 25.
Authorities said the jars contained around 300 bloodsuckers. The labels on the jars claimed the leeches were Hirudo Orientalis, but a US Fish and Wildlife Service inspector confirmed they were Hirudo Medicinalis, a species used in medical bleeding treatments.
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The shipments violated US endangered species law, authorities said. The law prohibits “unlicensed possession, trade, import and export of protected species of wildlife or wildlife products.”
“Customs and Border Protection officers and agricultural specialists often encounter unique and interesting things, like this jar full of disgusting bloodsuckers, when inspecting goods imported into the United States,” said Joseph Martella, port director for CBP’s Philadelphia region. “CBP officers remain committed to working with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to intercept shipments that violate our nation’s laws and potentially threaten to harm our nation’s citizens and our economy. “
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The seizure took place last Thursday.