Unusual packages turn up at border crossings every now and then, a U.S. border official said Thursday, but it was still strange for officers to find a human brain in a shipment from Toronto last week.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment during a random inspection on Valentine’s Day, CBP spokesman Kris Grogan said.
The brain was packaged with bubble wrap and what appeared to be paper towel, Grogan said, but without any supporting documentation.
The only description along with the package — which originated in Toronto and was headed for Kenosha, Wis. — was that it contained an “antique teaching specimen.”
“It is a very unique case to open up a package with absolutely no documentation or anything and to find out that it’s a brain,” Grogan said in an interview.
“But I will say, nothing surprises us anymore on some of the things that we do find.”
The organ has since been put into quarantine while the agency investigates, Grogan said.
He said the agency can’t comment further until the investigation is complete.
“But there will be a final determination on what takes place with it,” he said.
Body parts must be registered and documented in detail with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before being sent across the border, Grogan said.
“People need to realize that there’s a lot of documentation that needs to be completed if you want to bring a specimen that has anything to do with the body,” he said, noting specimens like donated organs are frequently sent across the border.
He said a nearby border crossing in Detroit led the nation in handling biological parts.
CBP area port director Michael Fox said in a statement that the brain incident is “just another great example of just one of the many things CBP officers do to protect our nation on a daily basis.”
The Canadian Press