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Detecting 'Agricultural Terrorists,' at BWI Airport to Protect America's Crops

Updated: Wednesday, December 18 2013, 10:58 PM EST

This month a federal entomologist confirmed that a new pest, a type of scale insect, was found hidden in Italian tile that arrived at BWI Airport on an international flight.

FOX45 went behind the scenes at BWI to find out what kind of "agricultural terrorists" may be hidden in luggage and why it is so dangerous.

Each day close to 1,000 passengers fly into BWI on international flights.  At the federal inspection station US Customs and Border Protection agents go to work. One of the top cops on the front line is "Trooper," an agriculture detector dog. Trooper is trained to find fruits, vegetables, plants and meat in baggage arriving from foreign countries that could bring pests or disease into the US. He has been on the job for about three years and trained to detect 80 different odors.

The screening step is crucial. Foreign bugs could ruin crops and devastate the American agricultural economy, so guidelines are strict. Even apples taken from the flight are not allowed, due to possible fruit fly infestation.

Tucked away in suitcases officials have discovered a long list of horrors – even dried bats that had been barbequed, though the most common threat found is the khaper beetle. The khaper is a pest that could destroy thousands of acres of crops.

For information on what cannot be brought into the country go to the Customs and Border Protection website. Fines for non-compliance can begin at $300.

Detecting 'Agricultural Terrorists,' at BWI Airport to Protect America's Crops


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Washington Times