With supermarket egg prices now in the stratosphere, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a new kind of smuggling case to crack.
CBP officials are seeing a rise in people illegally bringing eggs into border states such as Texas from Mexico, where they’re priced lower, National Public Radio reports.
The U.S. average for a dozen large, Grade A eggs last month hit $4.25, more than double their $1.78 price in December 2021, according to the Consumer Price Index. Meanwhile, a 30-count carton of eggs in Juárez, Mexico sells for just $3.40, according to news site Border Report.
Those bringing eggs into the U.S. risk fines of up to $10,000, though CBP officials told NPR they more often confiscate and destroy the eggs and levy a $300 penalty. The U.S. Department of Agriculture banned eggs from Mexico in 2012, citing the risks of avian influenza.
Federal officials said most people arriving at international bridges with cartons of eggs are truthful about their purchases and simply don’t know their transport is prohibited, according to NPR.
“Generally, the items are being declared during the primary inspection and when that happens the person can abandon the product without consequence,” CBP spokeswoman Gerrelaine Alcordo told the news outlet in a statement.
Even so, “there have been a very small number of cases in the last weeks or so” in which authorities discovered undeclared eggs during a subsequent inspections.