If you’ve noticed that huevos rancheros at your local taqueria have increased in price recently, there’s a reason for it. According to data last month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of eggs has gone up 60 percent over the last year because demand has risen while production has dropped due to deadly avian flu hitting U.S. chicken flocks.
The increase in the price of eggs has also brought with it another consequence – a surge in egg smuggling from Mexico. According to NPR, officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are reporting more people trying to sneak eggs into the U.S. because prices are lower south of the border.
Purchasing eggs in Mexico and then attempting to bring them into the U.S. is illegal. This has been the case since 2012 when the USDA banned eggs from Mexico “based on the diagnosis of highly pathogenic avian influenza in commercial poultry” like bird flu and Newcastle disease, a contagious virus that affects birds.
Nevertheless, people continue to try to smuggle eggs. According to NPR, a carton of 30 eggs sells for $3.40 in Juárez, Mexico, while some places in California are charging well over $7.00 for only a dozen eggs. If caught smuggling eggs, the fines could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the number of times the law is broken.
“Generally, the items are being declared during the primary inspection and when that happens the person can abandon the product without consequence,” CPB spokesperson Gerrelaine Alcordo told NPR. “There have been a very small number of cases in the last weeks or so where eggs weren’t declared, and then subsequently discovered during inspection.”
Eggs not declared can lead to a $300 penalty with repeat offenders having higher penalties.