ERLANGER, Ky. (KT) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Cincinnati, located near the airport in Erlanger, have intercepted 51 shipments of invasive mitten crabs over the past four months.
The shipments, which totaled 3,700 crustaceans weighing about 3,400 pounds, originated in China and Hong Kong and were destined for residences and businesses in several states, although most were headed to New York. All were falsely manifested as tools and various clothing articles. CBP referred the live crabs to U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspectors onsite, and all violations are currently under review.
According to CBP officials, mitten crabs are a seasonal delicacy in Asia and retail for approximately $50 per crab in the United States. Their competition with native species has earned them a place on the Invasive Species Specialist Group’s list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.”
Mitten crabs have been found in California waterways, the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and the Hudson River. During fall months they are imported from Asia through U.S. international express and mail facilities where CBP and FWS await to refuse entry because of their disastrous impact on native habitats.
It is illegal to import mitten crabs and other injurious wildlife into the United States without a permit under federal law.
“As a unified border agency, CBP is committed to a fully integrated approach toward international security,” said Cincinnati CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan. “In this case, we worked closely with FWS to stop a serious threat to our economy and ecology.”
Nationwide, CBP agriculture specialists and officers and FWS inspectors have seized more than 15,000 mitten crabs since September. The Port of Cincinnati saw the highest volume of the smuggled animals, with the second largest number coming through Los Angeles ports of entry.