LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Customs agents at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) seized hundreds of tamales found inside the luggage of a passenger arriving from Mexico earlier this month, authorities said Wednesday.
The 450 prohibited pork meat tamales were discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists working at the airport on Nov. 2, according to CBP officials.
Authorities say the unidentified passenger marked “Yes” to bringing in food on a customs declaration, but when asked whether the food contained any pork meat products, the passenger gave a “negative verbal declaration”.
Upon further inspection, CBP agriculture specialists found the pork meat tamales wrapped in plastic bags, officials said.
The pork meat tamales, authorities say, were “seized and destroyed under CBP supervision.”
“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,” said Anne Maricich, CBP Acting Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “Every day CBP agriculture specialists prevent the intentional and unintentional introduction of harmful pests and foreign animal diseases into the U.S.”
The passenger was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty for commercial activity with the intent to distribute.
According to the official CBP website, international travelers must declare to customs officers that they are bringing food into the U.S. even if they believe a food item is able to enter legally.