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September 5, 2011

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Scorpions, flies among smuggled items

SOME exotic and harmful creatures have kept local entry-exit inspection authorities busy this year, as scorpions, lizards and insects, banned from import, were found to be smuggled through postal parcels.

Some of the animals have never been found in a Shanghai port before, said the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

Officials will strengthen parcel inspections and are reminding people not to mail prohibited goods into the country, said the bureau.

Officials disclosed two cases.

During a regular inspection of parcels, a package from Egypt caught their attention. It was declared as "toys," but officials found a small paper bag inside a camel-shaped model through X-ray. When they opened the paper bag, 66 scorpions crawled out.

"It was just like the Trojan House," said Qiu Wenwei, an official with the bureau's postal affairs department.

Officials found that they were deathstalker scorpions, which have stings that can be fatal to humans. The bureau couldn't find the receiver and the scorpions had no quarantine certificate, so they were destroyed.

A parcel from Switzerland also offered officials a surprise. They found something was flying in the parcel declared as "samples for research." The parcel was quarantined and sealed before officials contacted the receiver, a science research institute. The package contained live fruit flies. The bureau required the institute to apply for entry permission for the flies.

The bureau said e-commerce has made smuggling more common, as all kinds of weird or dangerous products may be snuck into the country. For the first half of the year, the bureau intercepted more than 340 batches of prohibited goods and nearly 270 batches of live animals at Shanghai's ports.

Some products may not be on the country's list of banned import items but are still dangerous, officials said.

Officers have to rely on X-ray machines, inspection dogs and ourselves, trying not to let any dangerous stuff go, according to Qiu.


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