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10/04/2008 – Traveling With Illegal & Contraband Items : Know The Rules Or Face “Going Home”
Everyday travelers fly across borders, oceans and continents with items they should not be traveling with. From minor items of interest to Customs Agents to significant items of interest to Customs Agents. The penalties associated with entering countries with these items can range from confiscation, fines, deportation and of course jail.
If you choose to try and enter a country with contraband or illegal items know that getting caught is a significant risk. Obviously flying with drugs and explosives comes to mind for most people, however many countries have dogs trained to sniff for other items such as agriculture, tobacco and even cold hard cash.
I was reminded of this yesterday while waiting from my flight from Philadelphia to Frankfurt when I looked out the window and started watching a U.S. Customs K9 unit that had pulled up beside baggage container being unloaded from an in-bound flight from Europe. Once the US Customs Agent released his dog it quickly “hit on” two boxes that were marked Fragile. US Customs Agents brought the boxes to a mobile x-ray unit to inspect the packages and agent set forth in opening the packages right there on the tarmac.
With some luck I managed to meet up with two US Immigrations Agents with the gentleman who’s packages were sniffed out by the dog. It turns out he was arriving in the United States with a lot of Cuban Cigars. Cuban Cigars are beloved around the world and illegal in the United States. I am not sure how many cigars this gentleman was arriving with, because I’d imagine deportation for possessing Cuban Cigars is not common, but he was processed and deported very quickly. With some conversation, I managed to talk my way into being allowed to photograph the “deportee” being escorted into the secure area where he’d wait to board his departing flight out of the United States.
Keep this in mind when you are playing the odds that you can contraband and illegal items into a country you are traveling to, or through. It may bring a quick end to your journey.