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CBP officials stop woman trying to smuggle 50 wheels of undeclared cheese

The contraband cheese was “seized and destroyed pursuant to existing guidelines”

September 12, 2022 6:55pm

Updated: September 12, 2022 8:14pm

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers said they intercepted a woman who was trying to smuggle 100 pounds of undeclared cheese across the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Agents found the woman at the Paso Del Norte border crossing in El Paso, Texas on September 6, according to a statement by the agency. 

The woman, identified as a U.S. citizen from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had hidden the cheese in her car to try to cross the border. 

"The CBP officer located the declared dairy product in the trunk area of the vehicle. As the officer continued the exam an additional 50 wheels of undeclared cheese were discovered hidden under blankets in the back row of the vehicle," the press release said.

The woman was handed a $1,000 civil penalty and released from custody. The contraband cheese was “seized and destroyed pursuant to existing guidelines,” the agency said. 

"Travelers can import cheese commensurate with personal consumption levels," said El Paso Port Director Ray Provencio. "A few wheels would generally be fine but not 60. It was undeclared and that amount would be a commercial quantity and additional reporting requirements would apply."

While dairy products can be taken across the border, they have to follow the guidelines specified by the CBP, the Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration. 

“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 the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requirements. They are also subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements,” said the statement.