A JetBlue flight in Florida tried to smuggle 940 grams of heroin into Orlando International Airport by hiding it under her uniform. U.S. Customs and Border Protection did a screening of passengers and JetBlue employees who were traveling from Colombia. That's when officers found the drugs. She admitted to knowing she was carrying something illegal. She said she got the package in Colombia and was being paid $10,000 to smuggle the heroin. She was supposed to deliver it to a man and helped officers stage the delivery. Both of them will be in court soon.
Also, a recent list of the top 10 things you'll never get through customs just came out. They are:
1. Absinthe--Modern absinthe is different from the low-quality, toxic stuff made with poisonous metal salts and associated with hallucinogenic properties. However, it's still illegal to bring certain kinds of absinthe in from other countries because of a lack of regulation. Bottles that claim to contain 10 parts per million or more of the chemical thujone are no-nos.
2. Certain plants (and crafts made from plants)--Prepare to present any plant item that you want to bring into the States to a customs officer for inspection. You'll need a permit even for items like nursery stock, seeds and cut flowers with berries attached. Other things, like "noxious weeds," aren't allowed at all. Apply online for a USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine permit to bring acceptable plants into the states or check if they're prohibited. Permits take 30 days or more to process and are good for up to three years.
3. Ivory (including jewelry made from ivory)—You'll need a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring any ivory into the country, due to the Endangered Species Act. You can import an antique ivory item if you have special documentation showing it's more than 100 years old, but because of poaching, any object that's younger isn't allowed.
4. Ancient artifacts--So many items have been stolen from museums and churches that any ancient artifact requires an export permit. The U.S. National Stolen Property Act prevents people from legally owning a stolen item.
5. Big souvenirs from Cuba, Iran, or much of Sudan--Economic sanctions prevent visitors from bringing items back from these countries. You can apply for a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control if you wish to import something, but it's rare that you'll get one. There are a few exceptions, like books, magazines, films, photographs, posters, art and music are okay, so are small gifts worth less than $100.
6. Meat-based products (even soup mix)--Bush meat made from African wildlife and anything with meat products—like bouillon, soup mixes, etc.—from most countries could introduce serious pathogens into the U.S. and spread conditions like foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever, mad cow disease and the avian flu. That goes for canned and dried meats, too.
7. Most fruits and vegetables--One small piece of fruit carried onto an airplane caused the great California Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak of the early 80s. It threatened the state's agriculture and set the federal government back $100 million. If you plan to bring fruit back, the USDA has a long list of what's allowed.
8. Some Haitian goat hide drums—Some goat-skin drums aren't treated properly and have been tied to a cutaneous anthrax case. That put them on the Centers for Disease Control's restricted list. Same goes for some African drums. If you get your own personal drum, make sure it's been tanned so it's non-infectious.
9. Designer knockoffs and cartoon-character paraphernalia--Fake Chanel bags and almost real Mickey Mouse souvenirs are subject to U.S. copyright and trademark protections. The government is so serious about enforcing this that your merchandise could be seized.
10. More than $10,000 cash—You'll have to report the cash first. Smuggling "bulk currency" is the kind of thing drug traffickers do, so U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't like it. Money orders, travelers' checks, and foreign coins count, too. To bring your money in legally, get the Report of International Transportation of Currency of Monetary Instruments from a customs officer. If you don't, you could face up to five years in jail.
What have you smuggled?
(Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)