As the price of eggs continues to rise, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reporting a spike in people attempting to bring eggs into the country illegally from Mexico, where prices are lower.
The jump in sightings of the contraband product can be best explained by the high price of eggs in the U.S., which soared 60% in December over a year earlier. A combination of the deadliest bird flu outbreak in U.S. history, compounded by inflationary pressure and supply-chain snags, is to blame for the high prices shoppers are seeing at the supermarket.
It’s forcing some drastic measures: some grocery store chains are limiting how many cartons customers can buy.
And some people are going as far as smuggling eggs from out of the country, where prices are more affordable, and risking thousands of dollars in fines in the process.
Shoppers from El Paso, Texas, are buying eggs in Juárez because they are “significantly less expensive,” CPB spokesperson Gerrelaine Alcordo told NPR in a statement.
Most of those people arriving at international bridges are open about their purchase because they don’t realize eggs are prohibited.
“Generally, the items are being declared during the primary inspection and when that happens the person can abandon the product without consequence,” Alcordo said. “There have been a very small number of cases in the last weeks or so” were eggs weren’t declared, and then subsequently discovered during inspection, Alcordo added.
If the products are discovered, agriculture specialists confiscate and destroy them, which is routine for prohibited food. Those people are fined $300, but the penalty can be higher for repeat offenders of commercial size illegal imports.
There’s a joke in there somewhere involving Greg Abbott and the Texas National Guard, but I don’t quite feel up to the task. If you want to know more about why eggs are so expensive right now, it’s all about avian flu, as Your Local Epidemiologist explains. If you’re planning a visit to Mexico sometime in the near future, please be aware of what you can and cannot bring back with you. (If you’re planning a, um, unofficial trip to Mexico, you’re on your own.) In the meantime, know that this too shall pass. CNN and the Current have more.