Smugglers in China may use you as a pawn, as a Sunset Hills woman found out by accident

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS – It sounds like something out of a spy novel, but it is happening to unsuspecting people in St. Louis and across the country.

“I didn’t order jewelry from China, but that’s what the package said.” She continued, “I opened it and there wasn’t anything inside with an invoice or a description inside of what it was,” sais Christine Lieber.

The package only contained seeds, with packaging that says “untracked.” Lieber continued, “It is not a traceable package. You get very nervous and anxious about, well, what is the motive for these seeds?

The Federal Government is investigating the motive. The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) is assisting.

“We have no idea even really what it is because we haven’t analyzed any of the seed coming in yet,” said Jacob Fleig, MDA.

If you receive a mysterious package of seeds, investigators say

  • 1. Do not open the packaging of seeds.
  • 2. Do not plant the seeds if the packaging has been opened
  • 3. Report your delivery so investigators can gather evidence

Fleig added, “Whether it’s actual seed that’s legal for distribution in the United States or in our State, whether it has noxious or prohibited weeds in it – those kinds of seeds just are typically hard to control under our normal agriculture practices, so they can overtake our native species and kind of crowd them out.”

Lieber has instructions to send her seeds to USDA inspectors who hope to find the motives of the businesses in China. Lieber says it is worth the effort for her to get the evidence to investigators.

“It’s the right thing to do. The easy thing to do is just throw them away and not do anything but I care about myself, my family, my friends, and the people around me who I’ve never met. If there’s something we can do to prevent something from happening that’s going to be a huge, huge problem – way more than a shortage of toilet paper if we’re not concerned about those around us,” said Lieber.

Report mysterious seeds to the USDA through the anti-smuggling hotline number 1-800-877-3835 or by sending an email to SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov. USDA will make every attempt to protect the confidentiality of any information sources during an investigation within the extent of the law.

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