What's the craziest thing ever found by a border control agent?
The occasional Ziploc baggie of chinchilla teeth? Maybe we're talking about some sort of color-changing space slug that subsists entirely on energy gained from anal probing. Or could it be that the esteemed prize belongs to an unassuming postcard from Belize that is able to keep its recipient young forever à la The Picture of Dorian Gray?
We may never again be forced to ask ourselves such an existential crisis-inducing question thanks to one recent traveler from El Salvador, who said to hell with these rules and regulations. Instead, he tried to smuggle in five raw chickens and three packages of pork meat on a flight that arrived at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport last week.
As it happens, the Customs and Border Patrol personnel asked the traveler, who is a lawful permanent resident of the US, if he had anything to declare. According to CPB rules, if you bring food into this country, you pretty much have to declare it. The traveler in question—who evidently really likes the animal products of El Salvador—said he just had some fried chicken on him.
In fact, however, he had unfried chicken on him. He also had several packages of cooked pork in his bag. The officials found all of it after conducting a quick inspection. Raw chicken is verboten according to border regulations and pork is certainly not a favorite of the border patrol people either. In their words: "In very few cases swine and swine products can enter the United States."
Meat smuggling is a low-level but pervasive problem in the US. The CBP seized an estimated $199,263 worth of food in 2013, though that represented less than 1 percent of all seized goods that year.
Although fines of up to $10,000 can be issued for bringing forbidden food into the US, our traveler from El Salvador was only slammed with a $300 fine. We're sorry to report that his chicken and pork products were also seized and, reportedly, destroyed.
In addition to all the drugs and undeclared nunchaku they snatch on the regular, the CBP sees all kinds of food stuffed into luggage by hopeful travelers who just want to enjoy the taste of other countries while in the States. In November, for example, border patrol stopped a traveler trying to enter Los Angeles International Airport with 450 illegal pork tamales.
Border patrol might not be a bad place to work if you enjoy food from other nations.