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50 Wheels of Smuggled Cheese Seized at U.S. Border

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said last week that it found more than 100 pounds of unreported cheese in the backseat of a New Mexico woman’s car. 

The driver, who was only identified as “a female U.S. citizen,” was crossing the border at Paso Del Norte from Mexico into El Paso, Texas. According to reports, she told the CBP officials that she was bringing ten wheels of cheese, each weighing about one kilogram (2.2 pounds). Fifty additional wheels of cheese were found in the backseat, hidden underneath a blanket, in addition to the cheeses found in the vehicle’s trunk.

The cheese was all seized and burned right away, and the woman was fined $1,000 in civil court. After that, she was freed and allowed to continue traveling in America. In accordance with their own consumption levels, travelers are permitted to import cheese, according to CBP El Paso Port Director Ray Provencio. It was undeclared, and that number would be a commercial quantity, so additional reporting rules would apply. A few wheels would often be alright, but not 60.

Many imported kinds of cheese may be “subject to quota restrictions” established by the CBP and the Department of Agriculture, according to the regulations of that organization. In addition, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations must be followed by all dairy products, including butter, cheese, cream, milk, and ice cream. In addition to registering with the FDA, commercial imports (such as those weighing more than 100 pounds of cheese) require additional paperwork, including the filing of a “Prior Notice” of the proposed import.

It’s not just the US that does this kind of thing. When a sniffer dog in the Darwin, Australia, airport smelled two egg and sausage McMuffins in the bottom of a passenger’s backpack in August, the airliner was fined AUD $2,664 ($1,846). The two sandwiches and a ham croissant were purchased by the unnamed man in Bali, Indonesia, but they were not consumed during the flight.

His unfinished breakfast was identified as an unreported biosecurity concern when he arrived in Australia. Foods were seized, examined for evidence of foot and mouth illness, and then thrown out.

“This will be the most expensive Maccas meal this passenger ever has, this fine is twice the cost of an airfare to Bali, but I have no sympathy for people who choose to disobey Australia’s strict biosecurity measures, and recent detections show you will be caught,” Murray Watt, Australia’s Minister of for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry said in a statement.

Even though it’s a costly scenario to be in, at least those two travelers are aware of who moved their cheese (and their egg-and-cheese McMuffins).

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