Wheels fall off cheese smuggling scheme

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing in downtown El Paso seized more than 100 pounds of undeclared cheese on September 6. Image from USCBP
– Advertising –

Texas Border Affairs

EL PASO, TX – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing in downtown El Paso seized more than 100 pounds of undeclared cheese Sept. 6.

The incident began shortly before 7:00 a.m. when a 2011 GMC Yukon arrived from Mexico. The driver of the vehicle, a US citizen from Albuquerque, declared 10 cheese wheels to the CBP officer.

The CBP officer located the declared dairy product in the trunk of the vehicle. As the officer continued the examination, an additional 50 wheels of undeclared cheese were discovered hidden under blankets in the back row of the vehicle. Each wheel of cheese weighed about a kilo.

The driver was fined $1,000 and released. The contraband cheese was seized and destroyed in accordance with the directives in force.

“Travellers can import cheese based on their personal consumption levels,” said CBP El Paso Port Manager Ray Provencio. “A few wheels would usually be fine but not 60. This was undeclared and that amount would be a commercial quantity and additional reporting requirements would apply.”

Milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and many cheeses are subject to quotas administered by both CBP and the Department of Agriculture. All dairy products are subject to the requirements of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the Ministry of Agriculture. They are also subject to the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Milk and cream cannot be imported without an FDA permit. The packaging or cartons of these products must be printed with the country of origin. Finally, all commercial imports of food and beverage products require prior notification to the FDA, and foreign food manufacturers and/or distributors must register with the FDA before their goods can be admitted.