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Illegal Chinese Pork in Baby Formula Caught in Customs

On November 13, a traveler from China en route to the United States was caught at U.S. Customs preclearance with an illegal pork product hidden inside baby formula and milk powder containers.

Upon arrival in the Vancouver preclearance facility, the traveler coming in from China was referred for inspection to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists. CBP stated that the traveler lied when asked if he was bringing in any agricultural products. The agriculture specialists subsequently found 4.4 pounds of “pork belly meat and pork sausages inside baby formula and milk powder containers.”

In early November, a Mexican national was caught attempting to sneak pork tamales into the U.S. through LAX international airport.

It is difficult to ascertain what volume of illegal meat products are not detected by customs inspectors, but at least two this month – a load from Mexico and this one from China – were halted.

“This interception demonstrates the benefits of Preclearance locations where CBP can stop threats or prohibited items prior to reaching the United States,” said Kurry Pastilong, assistant director, Office of Field Operations, Preclearance, in Friday’s CBP statement: “The fact that these items were found even though they were concealed in an unusual product speaks to the level of detail and vigilance CBP agriculture specialists display on a daily basis to accomplish the CBP mission.”

The traveler from China had a final destination of San Francisco, California, before being stopped at the Vancouver, Canada, airport preclearance for U.S. Customs. In the case of the Mexican national, a fine of $1,000 was assessed and noted by CBP, while in this case it was noted that a penalty was assessed, but the amount and/or nature was not disclosed. As with the pork tamales, the illegal pork meat product was seized and destroyed.

On November 2, customs authorities stopped a Mexican national from smuggling in hundreds of illegal pork tamales. The man had declared that he was bringing food, but lied about the foreign meat product being transferred in. The tamales were seized and destroyed. The suspected traveler transporting the illegal product was fined $1,000 for “commercial activity with the intent to distribute.”

CBP describes preclearance as:

CBP Preclearance operations allow for advance inspection of passengers and special coordination with law enforcement upon arrival in the United States. Through preclearance, the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of international air passengers performed on arrival in the United States are instead completed before departure at foreign airports. Currently, preclearance operations exist at 15 foreign airports in six different countries, benefitting air passengers, airports, and air carriers, in the United States and abroad.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.

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