EL PASO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing in downtown El Paso seized 484 pounds of bologna and 285 pounds of cheese during the early morning hours of Oct. 27.
“In both these cases the travelers concealed these commodities and failed to properly declare merchandise acquired abroad to the CBP officer upon arrival and entry,” said CBP El Paso Port Director Ray Provencio.
The 484-pound bologna seizure occurred just after 1:30 a.m. when a 32-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a pickup truck applied for entry. The CBP officer at the primary inspection booth detected nervousness during the routine interview and directed the driver to the secondary inspection area. CBP officers continued the exam and located 44 rolls of Mexican bologna hidden in the vehicle’s toolbox and under a blanket on the floor of the truck. The bologna was seized and the driver was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty. The product was seized under 9 CFR part 94.
“Pork products have the potential to introduce foreign animal diseases that can be detrimental to our agriculture industry,” said Provencio.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security are partners in the effort to protect American agriculture against the introduction of pests and diseases at our nation's ports of entry. Undeclared prohibited agriculture items will be confiscated and can result in the issuance of a civil penalty for failure to declare.
The 285-pound cheese seizure was made just before 4:30 a.m. when a 43-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a SUV applied for entry. CBP officers selected the vehicle for a secondary exam during which they located several boxes hidden beneath a blanket. When CBP officers opened the boxes they located multiple blocks and bags of cheese. The cheese was seized and the driver was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty for failure to declare merchandise under 19 USC 1497.
“This was a commercial quantity and the importer failed to follow proper procedures to legally enter this product,” said Provencio.
Milk, cream, ice cream, butter and many cheeses are subject to quota restrictions administered by both CBP and the Department of Agriculture. All dairy products are subject to Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requirements. They are also subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements.
Milk and cream may not be imported without a permit from the FDA. The wrappers or cartons for these products must be printed with the country of origin. Finally, all commercial imports of food and beverage products require the Filing of Prior Notice with FDA, and foreign manufacturers and/or distributers of food products must register with the FDA before their goods may be admitted.