ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – 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,” Christine Lieber said. “I opened it and there wasn’t anything inside with an invoice or a description inside.”
The package only contained seeds, with packaging that says “untracked.”
“It is not a traceable package,” Lieber continued. “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, of the MDA.
Investigators say if you receive a mysterious package of seeds:
- Do not open the packaging of seeds.
- Do not plant the seeds if the packaging has been opened
- 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, and “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,” she said. “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.