U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have seen a spike in attempts to illegally smuggle eggs across the Mexican border into the U.S. amid high egg prices, according o the LA Times.
U.S. egg prices soared 60% from December 2021 to December 2022, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blames the impact of avian bird flu.
Eggs in Mexico remain significantly cheaper than those in the US, prompting some to smuggle them across the border.
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“They are significantly less expensive in Mexico than the U.S.,” Gerrelaine Alcordo, spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection in San Diego, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is also occurring with added frequency at other Southwest border locations as well … We continue to see higher than average numbers of prohibited poultry products. Even one uncooked egg is too many, due to the risk it could pose to American agriculture.”
While most attempts to transport eggs over the border are “not necessarily smuggling,” as people declare them when crossing the border, there has been a recent rise in undeclared egg transportation.
CBP’s San Diego field office saw a 397% increase in egg seizures from the last quarter of 2021 to 2022, while Tucson, Arizona, saw a 320% increase, and Laredo, Texas, saw a 313% increase over the same period.
The USDA banned raw egg and poultry products from being brought across the border in 2012 due to concerns about diseases infecting U.S. agricultural products, according to the LA Times.
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Most egg interceptions are the result of voluntary declarations, which allow individuals to surrender the eggs without facing any penalties, according to CBP.
But several people have been caught in the past week attempting to carry eggs over the border after failing to declare them, resulting in a $300 initial fine and increased penalties for repeat offenders or commercial-sized imports.
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