MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) met with federal officials at Miami International Airport about the smuggling of wildlife through Florida airports.
At Miami International Airport, they’re fighting a losing battle trying to keep the illegal smuggling ring in check.
“This airport is the most trafficked for live freight,” Nelson told reporters during a press conference with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents responsible for inspecting shipments of exotic animals at Miami’s airport. “And what we have seen is that we have huge holes here in the United States of airport workers not being checked.”
M.I.A. is considered the central hub for those attempting to smuggle invasive species like Burmese pythons into the U.S. These snakes, in particular, have wreaked havoc on the Everglades by disrupting the ecosystem as they compete with native predators in the Everglades.
“These invasive pythons are threatening to destroy the Everglades,” Nelson said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep them out of our state.”
Sen. Nelson has filed a bill to tighten up airport-employee security measures, hoping to cut down on smugglers having help on the inside. His visit Monday comes on the heels of the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approving his legislation.
“Miami took care of this problem ten years ago. Because Miami condensed the number of entry points for airport workers,” Sen. Nelson continued. “And those airport workers go through a screening just like we passengers go through.”
Miami and Orlando are the only two airports in the country to do this, according to Sen. Nelson. However, the smuggling trade is still too large to stop completely.
“One out of every three shipments of wildlife through the Miami airport, they’re finding are illegal,” said Nelson.
Officials said that volume amounts to be so much that they’re unaware how much it actually is.