Illegally imported goose intestines hidden under rattlesnakes, federal authorities say


NEW YORK — Six people were arrested in New York on Tuesday on charges of illegally importing goose and duck intestines from China, in some cases by hiding them under packaged rattlesnakes or mislabeling them as pet grooming products on customs forms, federal officials announced.

The scheme, which also included illegal imports of duck blood and hawthorn fruit, involved transporting the restricted food items from China to California and then on to New York, where they were sold to customers, including restaurants, authorities said in a complaint filed Monday.

The six, who were expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn later Tuesday, are charged with importing, storing and selling hundreds of pounds of illegal food items between August 2022 and May 2023. Messages seeking comment were sent to their attorneys.

snack meat illegal food shipments
Packaged snake meat that was found in an illegal shipment in New York of duck and goose intestines from China, in Nov. 2022.US Attorney’s Office, EDNY via AP file

Federal law prohibits importing any raw poultry products from China, and hawthorn fruit from China is also restricted, the authorities said.

According to the complaint, 1,966 cartons of goose and duck intestines were shipped in August 2022 from China to the Port of Long Beach, where they were identified as nail clippers and other pet grooming products on customs forms.

The cartons were dropped off at Los Angeles International Airport and flown to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York via a major U.S. air carrier’s cargo service, federal officials said.

Another shipment of illegal poultry products in November 2022 was incorrectly labeled as frozen seafood, and some of the restricted items were concealed under packages of dead rattlesnakes, the authorities said.



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