U.S. Customs and Border Protection often makes headlines for its operations stopping the flow of illicit drugs into the United States, but its agents earlier this week seized some illicit luncheon meat.
According to a Friday CBP news release, border officials at a port of entry near El Paso, Texas, stopped 154 pounds of prohibited bologna from making it into the United States interior on Thursday morning. The agency says that officials stopped a pickup truck with a Texas license plate at the crossing point and noticed red rolls behind the seat of the truck, which the driver reportedly tried to claim were frozen rolls of "turkey ham."
Upon referring the car for further inspection, the release continued, agents found that it contained 14 rolls of Mexican bologna weighing a total of 154 pounds. The contraband meat was subsequently seized and destroyed, and the driver of the vehicle was released.
The reason foreign pork isn't allowed through customs, the release explains, is because of the concern about spreading porcine diseases into the United States.
A United States Department of Agriculture website explains that "a major pest or disease outbreak could mean higher grocery bills, shortages of certain foods, and devastating losses for our farmers and ranchers." Specifically, the USDA site lists swine vesicular disease, swine fever and African swine fever as causes for concern.
CBP notes that travelers are only allowed to bring swine and swine products into the United States in "very few cases," such as if the product has been commercially canned.
Earlier this year, customs officials announced that they had seized 1 million pounds of food products in an effort to combat the illegal importation of pork products from China, which has been dealing with an outbreak of African swine fever.
"It is important that travelers understand they should declare all items they are transporting from abroad to avoid fines and penalties," said CBP El Paso Port Director Beverly Good of the bologna seizure. "A properly declared prohibited item can be abandoned at the port without consequence."