Border agents are scrambling to address a new problem coming into the country: eggs smuggled as contraband.
Between Nov. 1 and Jan. 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers recorded more than 2,000 interactions with people attempting to smuggle eggs into the country in four cities, including San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas. The same period last year saw just 460 encounters, the New York Times reported.
The influx of egg smuggling comes as the food's price rose 60 percent in 2022: Grade A eggs went from $1.79 for a dozen in December 2021 to $4.25 a year later. An outbreak of bird flu affecting tens of millions of chickens and soaring inflation under the Biden administration are factors in the hike.
But looking south for grocery bill relief is not an option for some items. Animal products and some fruits and vegetables are illegal to bring into the country from Mexico.
Fines are issued for those who fail to report their cargo, the Times reported:
People who declare that they have crossed the border with eggs "can abandon the product without consequence," [CBP spokesman Roger Maier] said. Customs and Border Protection agricultural specialists collect and destroy the eggs, he said.
Mr. Maier said that in a "very small number of cases in the last week or so," eggs were not declared and discovered during an inspection. The people implicated in those cases were issued a $300 civil penalty, he said. Fines can be higher for repeat offenders or for those who bring in eggs to sell commercially, he said.