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Egg smuggling spikes on Mexico border amid record-high prices

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations officer and K-9 inspect vehicles of personnel entering the United States from Mexico at the Hidalgo Port of Entry in Texas, June 4, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard/Jetta Disco.)
January 20, 2023

More and more eggs are being seized at the U.S.-Mexico border from people looking for better deals down south as prices soar in America.

Confiscations of egg products by U.S. border officers increased 108 percent from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, according to Border Report. During that time, egg prices climbed to record highs. 

December prices averaged $5.03 per dozen, a more than 207 percent increase from December 2021, according to a report from the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prices have fallen since then, but are likely to stay higher-than-usual because 43 million egg-laying hens recently died in a bird flu outbreak, according to the report.

The situation has been tempting more and more Americans to buy eggs south of the border, where prices can be lower, and bring them back across in violation of federal law. Border crossers caught with eggs can face fines, and their contraband will be taken and destroyed.

“My advice is, don’t bring them over,” said CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Charles Payne. “If you fail to declare them or try to smuggle them, you face civil penalties.”

Jennifer De La O, CBP’s director of field operations in San Diego, said on Twitter her office has “recently noticed an increase” in eggs seized at ports of entry. She said “failure to declare agricultural items” can bring a fine as high as $10,000.

Payne said a high fine like that is mostly aimed at illegal commercial shipments, and an individual would more likely be fined around $300. If they promptly reveal the eggs themselves, they may not have to pay any fine at all, he said.

But the eggs will still be taken from the individual and destroyed, Payne said — by incineration.

A complete list of items prohibited or restricted by CBP is available here.