Haitian national, Myrlene Severe was charged on Friday with "smuggling a human head".

Severe was arrested on Thursday and US prosecutors confirmed they also charged the Florida resident with failing to declare a package containing a skull on a customs declaration form and transporting hazardous material. The skull had "organic matter" on it, they said

"Severe stated that she had obtained the package, which contained the human head, from a male in Haiti for use as a part of her voodoo beliefs," the US attorney for the Southern District of Florida said in a statement. "Severe also stated that the purpose of the package was to ward off evil spirits."

More than half of Haiti's population say they practise voodoo, an Afro-Caribbean religion with roots dating back 6000 years or more in Africa.

Each of the charges carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

There were no details on who the skull belonged to, but local radio in Miami speculated that the owner had been dead at least a year.