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Here Today, Gone Tamale: 450 Tamales Seized at LAX

Illegal items were seized recently at Los Angeles International Airport, but it’s not what you might think.

A traveler coming in to the United States from Mexico on November 2 had their luggage seized while going through customs and border patrol. Officials found a large stash of illegal contraband. But it wasn’t drugs, weapons, or anything quite so malicious. The traveler was carrying 450 pork tamales.

According to officials at the airport, the traveler did accurately claim food products on their customs form, but neglected to add when asked that they were carrying meat products. The tamales were all individually wrapped.

“It seems like the intention was selling the tamales for commerce,” CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz told the Daily Breeze. “Even if you bring them for personal use, it’s still a prohibited import.”

Authorities seized the food and destroyed it. The traveler was issued a $1,000 civil penalty fine, cited as commercial activity with intent to distribute.

“Although tamales are a popular holiday tradition, foreign meat products can carry serious animal diseases from countries affected by outbreaks of Avian Influenza, Mad Cow and Swine Fever,” Anne Maricich, Customs and Border Protection’s acting director of field operations in Los Angeles, told ABC. “Every day CBP agriculture specialists prevent the intentional and unintentional introduction of harmful pests and foreign animal diseases into the U.S.”

This is just the latest in a long line of civil penalties issued by the customs and border protection agricultural specialists. In 2014 alone, 75,330 fines were handed out nationwide and officials collected more than 1.6 million illegally transported meat products, animal byproducts and plant or soil quarantined products.

[Photo: Getty]

Comments are Closed.
BJM November 25, 2015

Notice how they drop these ridiculous butt assertions, but when asked to point to their source they never produce? Not mentioning any names, Cole.

robsaw November 21, 2015

1. I think they mean in a secondary wrapping appropriate for a re-sale process. 2. Montezuma’s Revenge/The Aztec Quick Step isn't due to sensitive digestive systems, it is due to viral, bacterial or parisitic contamination. That said the OP's assertions about what Mexico does with respect to its laws within Mexico have zero bearing on what other countries, including the USA do when enforcing their law. And given that there are no vaccination requirements for Mexicans entering the USA the assertions about disease carrying killer Mexicans is spurious at best; particularly given the anti-vaccine fad WITHIN the USA that has definitely caused death and illness. I'm not sure I'd want a tamale after it has been sitting in luggage for a few hours whether cooked or not.

TMOliver November 20, 2015

1. I never met a tamale which wasn't "individually wrapped". 2. I hate to tell he who first commented just how much of what he eats, especially produce, comes from Mexico. Mexican food killing people? Well, the "stats" confirm that some 'Merkin food can be pretty dangerous too. I'll confess that the sensitive of digestion have been known to develop Montezuma's Revenge/The Aztec Quick Step from some Mexican foods, but a palate-pleasing, track-cleansing dose of jalapenos stuffed with tuna (in a can down at your local Fiesta (if you live close to a Fiesta) will cure what ails you.

BJM November 20, 2015

Hey, Cole, I would like to know where you got your statistics, as I am very interested in the actual documented numbers.

strickerj November 20, 2015

I thought cooked food was considered safe though?