The US Border Is Seeing More Travelers Smuggling Eggs From Mexico

The price of eggs continues to rise. As recently as November, according to the Associated Press, the cost of buying a dozen eggs was more than twice what it was the previous year. The historically high prices are expected to continue into 2023, CNBC observes, at least through the first few months of the year.

Bird flu is the main culprit for these sky-high egg prices, although supply chain issues and rising fuel costs have also been listed as factors. Well over 50 million birds were killed due to outbreaks of the avian virus last year, confirms the Associated Press, 43 million of which were egg-producing hens. This has resulted in fewer available eggs, and in some cases, shortages on supermarket shelves, notes The New York Times.

The consumer response to higher prices and occasional shortages has been varied, to say the least. People in several states have decided to purchase egg-laying chickens to keep at home, The New York Times reports. A more daring, not to mention illegal, approach has been taken by an increasing number of travelers to Mexico, who have attempted to smuggle in eggs with them upon their return to the U.S., per KTSM.

Seizures of undeclared eggs rising at U.S. border crossings

Egg-related seizures were up 108% along the U.S. border during the last three months of 2022 (relative to the same time period in 2021), according to KTSM, an NBC-affiliated television station and news outlet in El Paso, Texas. El Paso. However, it is not the only border entry point contributing to the major uptick in egg seizures. Officials in San Diego and along the southwestern border have all noted an increase in similar seizures. San Diego's Director of Field Operations took to Twitter on January 17, 2023 — a day before announcing a massive cocaine seizure — to remind travelers that bringing improperly declared eggs is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000. "My advice is, don't bring them over," notes Charles Payne, the Customers and Border Protection agency's Supervisory Agriculture Specialist, per KTSM. "If you fail to declare them or try to smuggle them, you face civil penalties," the tweet read.

KTSM reports that properly declared eggs won't bring a fine, but they're not permitted via cross-border entry into the U.S., either. So attempting to bring them into the country is not a good idea, despite the fact that egg prices are lower in Mexico. The fine scale is a sliding one, it should be pointed out, as individuals are typically penalized no more than $300, with larger fines reserved for commercial-scale seizures.