US Customs and Border Protection officers seized 4,600 Tramadol pills and 90 pounds of prohibited pork bologna from an American woman crossing the border from Mexico.
In a press release about the contraband pills and meat, CBP said that the incident took place at the port of Santa Teresa on August 25.
According to CBP, a 34-year-old woman was crossing the border in the regular vehicle lanes when she was referred for a secondary inspection.
“During a secondary inspection, CBP officers located 92 bottles containing 4,600 pills of Tramadol, a schedule IV-controlled substance. The search also yielded 10 rolls of prohibited pork bologna which were stashed under the seats of the vehicle. The contraband meat weighed 90 pounds,” the press release states. She had not declared any items being transported from Mexico.
Tramadol is an opioid used to treat pain and is tightly regulated due to the potential for abuse and addiction.
CBP stated that the contraband was seized and the meat was destroyed by their agriculture specialists to comply with USDA regulations.
The woman was issued a civil penalty.
“It is important that travelers educate themselves on what products are allowed to be legally entered. And even if they believe an item is allowed travelers should still declare all items they are transporting from abroad to avoid fines and penalties,” said CBP Santa Teresa Port Director Tony Hall.
Mexican bologna is a prohibited product because it is made from pork and has the potential for introducing foreign animal diseases to the U.S. pork industry.
“CBP has been entrusted with enforcing hundreds of laws for 40 other government agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These agencies require that unsafe items are not allowed to enter the United States. CBP officers are always at ports of entry and assume the responsibility of protecting America from all threats,” CBP’s statement read.
Pork products imported from Mexico can carry diseases such as foot-and-mouth and African swine fever.
The fine for illegally smuggling the large bologna sausages can be up to $1,000 each. According to a report from Texas Monthly, this risk is often considered worth the reward because a nine-pound roll of Chimex costs $10 to $15 in Mexico — but can be sold in the US for between $80 to $100 each.
The Mexican bologna is said to have a “more porky” flavor.
Steven Alvarez, associate professor of English at St. John’s University and the writer behind the website Taco Literacy, told Texas Monthly that the Mexican sandwich meat fetches a high price because people enjoy the nostalgia.
“The lengths people will go to have the taste of something that transports them back to where they have fond memories, or a place that’s far away in distance and time . . . People will pay as much as they can,” Alvarez said.
CBP seizes hundreds of pounds of the meat per month.