While seizures of drugs and interceptions of people trying to enter the US illegally usually make the news, Border Patrol agents routinely identify some other very novel items that people attempt to smuggle across the border.
World War I Artillery Pieces
In January 2012, an importer tried to bring 13 pieces of German artillery shells into the U.S. as curios and relics. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BTA) found them to be in violation of their regulations. On behalf of the BTA, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection division seized the items.
Fate was good to the artillery casings, fuses, and projectiles. Since they were found to be inert, they did not pose a threat to the U.S. The items were transferred to the U.S. Army Artillery Museum in Fort Sill, Oklahoma where they were to be exhibited to the public.
Liquid Collagen and Placenta
Agricultural specialists in Nogales identified some unusual items that had been declared for importation into the US in December 2012. The items were labeled as placenta and liquid collagen.
These tissues were probably destined to be made into beauty products. Since they were likely to have originated from animals or humans, they posed a potential risk of bringing pathogens into the country.
The driver was required to have a permit from the USDA Veterinary Services to import them. Since he did not, the items were seized. The driver was not penalized for attempting to bring them into the US, since he had declared the items.
3600 Pounds of Cheese and Two Parrots
In Falfurrias, Texas, a Border Patrol agent smelled a strange odor coming from a U-Haul truck at this border crossing in 2007. The driver gave him permission to search the truck. The agent found 3,664 pounds of cheese that had been purchased at a flea market. He also found two parrots in a cage.
The cheese was valued at $8,000. Since the driver did not have the proper documentation to bring the cheese into the country, it was seized and turned over to the USDA. The parrots were required to be registered for entry into the country. They were valued at $1,500 and were also seized.