EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – At $3.40, a 30-count carton of eggs is a steal in Juarez, Mexico, these days. Unfortunately, federal law prohibits Americans from bringing raw eggs or poultry across the border. That has not stopped people from trying as the price of eggs skyrockets in the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports a 108 percent increase in seized egg products and poultry at ports of entry from Oct. 1 to Dec 31 of last year. The price of a dozen eggs rose from $3.50 to $5.30 during that period as avian flu forced producers to put down 43 million egg-laying hens, according to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“My advice is, don’t bring them over,” said CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Charles Payne. “If you fail to declare them or try to smuggle them, you face civil penalties.”
Payne on Wednesday showed Border Report cartons of eggs seized by CBP officers the previous night. He said that has become a more common occurrence at the border in the past few months.
Other ports of entry along the Southwest border also are reporting increased seizures. The director of field operations for CBP in San Diego a day earlier alerted the public about the trend and reminded border crossers of fines of up to $10,000 for failure to declare.
Payne said the high fines are meant for undeclared illegal commercial shipments. Individuals bringing more modest amounts face civil penalties closer to $300. And if they tell CBP upfront exactly what they’re bringing back from Mexico, their eggs will still be seized and destroyed, but they may not have to pay a fine.
“The advantage of declaring it is, we will pick it up with no penalty issued. If you fail to declare it or if you attempt to smuggle it, there’s going to be a penalty,” he said.
The spike in egg seizures is somewhat of a novelty for agricultural specialists at ports of entry. Often, they deal with plant seizures over concerns about harmful pests like insects. Bologna smuggling also makes news occasionally.
CBP recommends that anyone planning shopping trips to Mexico consult their comprehensive list of restricted and prohibited items before returning to the U.S.
As for the eggs that were seized, Payne says they will be incinerated.