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Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border

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Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border
"Bush meat" seized by customs agents. Photo: Federal Customs Administration
19:22 CEST+02:00
A Frenchman living in Switzerland was caught entering the country from France with unusual contraband in his suitcase: 16 kilograms of meat from exotic species native to the African jungle.

The 45-year-old man was arrested last week while attempting to cross the Basel border, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA) reported on Wednesday.

The man said he had nothing to declare but border guards were in for a surprise when they opened a suitcase in the boot of his car, which had Swiss licence plates, customs officials said.

Inside they found plastic bags containing the meat of animals you wouldn’t normally expect to see on many dining tables in Switzerland.

The head of a snake, pieces of Nile crocodile and parts of two armadillos, protected species, were wrapped in the bags.

The suspect stated that he had been asked to take the suitcase to acquaintances in Zurich without knowing what was inside.

An investigation has determined that the exotic meat originated from Cameroon in west central Africa.

The federal office of food security and veterinary affairs ordered the seizure of the meat and its destruction for health reasons.

Up to now, Swiss customs have made similar seizures but only at the Geneva and Zurich airports.

Veit Arlt, from the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel, told the 20 Minuten newspaper that such “bush meat” is commonly sold in African markets and roadside stands.

Arlt said it is “understandable” that a person from Cameroon would want to import meat that he is used to eating to bring a “taste of home” from his native country.

“It only gets to be problematic when the meat is not properly processed, if it is imported in large quantities without being declared or if comes from animals that are protected species,” he said. 

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