Crime & Justice

Meaty story: 450 illegal pork tamales seized at LAX

Photo released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows seized 450 prohibited pork tamales discovered inside the luggage of a passenger arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico, on Nov. 2, 2015.
Photo released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows seized 450 prohibited pork tamales discovered inside the luggage of a passenger arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico, on Nov. 2, 2015.
CBP/AP

The latest large seizure of illegal contraband at Los Angeles International Airport didn't involve narcotics.

Federal authorities seized 450 pork tamales from the luggage of a traveler arriving from Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Wednesday that the traveler's customs form acknowledged the person was carrying food, but the traveler lied when asked if there was any meat.

A search turned up the individually wrapped pork tamales. The CBP enforces federal regulations on importing meat, which carry disease risks.

The seizure occurred on Nov. 2, the CBP said.

"Although tamales are a popular holiday tradition, foreign meat products can carry serious animal diseases," said Anne Maricich, CBP acting director of field operations in Los Angeles.

The tamales were destroyed under CBP supervision.

The traveler was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty for commercial activity with the intent to distribute.

During fiscal year 2014, CBP agriculture specialists nationwide issued 75,330 civil violations and intercepted more than 1.6 million animal by-product, meat and plant/soil quarantine products.