Cincinnati officials have confiscated and destroyed 4,248 pounds of Strophanthus fruit in the past two months. Fresh fruit flying into the US has to have specific documentation; there was no paperwork with these shipments.
The fruit is regulated because it might introduce foreign pests and diseases. “Cincinnati CBP agriculture specialists are focused on their mission to protect America’s crops, livestock, and ecosystems,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “The sheer volume of these prohibited shipments clearly show how we play a critical role in preventing invasive pests and diseases from entering the United States.”
The Strophanthus fruit was ultimately headed to several locations in the US in multiple shipments from Laos. It contains potent cardiac glycosides, which are compounds that can affect heart rate in its seeds. Tribal hunters used to use them because they can cause irregular and dangerous heart rhythms.