(CNN) — According to border officials, the higher prices have prompted an increase in smuggling attempts from Mexico into the United States.
San Diego Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have observed an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle eggs across the US-Mexico border, According to a tweet from Director of Field Operations Jennifer De La O,
“The San Diego Field Office has recently noticed an increase in the number of eggs detained at our ports of entry,” De La O wrote in Tuesday’s tweet. “As a reminder, raw eggs are prohibited from entering the US from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural commodities may result in a fine of up to $10,000.”
According to Customs and Border Protection, it is illegal to bring raw eggs from Mexico into the United States because of the risk of bird flu and Newcastle disease, a contagious virus that affects birds.
In a statement emailed to CNN, Gereline Alcordo, a public affairs specialist for Customs and Border Protection, attributed the increase in egg smuggling attempts to the rising price of eggs in the United States. An outbreak of deadly bird flu among U.S. chickens pushed egg prices up 11.1% from November to December and 59.9% annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Increases have been reported at the Tijuana-San Diego border crossing as well as at “other points along the southwest border,” according to Alcordo.
In most cases, travelers bringing eggs declared them when crossing the border. “When this happens, the person can give up the product without consequence,” Alcordo said. “CBP agriculture specialists will collect and then destroy eggs (and other restricted food and agricultural products) as a routine operation.”
In some incidents, passengers did not declare their eggs and the products were discovered during inspection. In those cases, the eggs were confiscated and passengers received a fine of US$300, Alcordo explained.
It added, “Penalties may be higher for a second offense or for commercial size imports.”
Alcordo stressed the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products during the visit.
“While many items may be permitted, it is best to declare them to avoid potential fines and penalties if they are deemed prohibited,” he said. “If declared and found to be prohibited, they may be released without consequence. If they are not declared and then discovered during examination, the passenger shall be subject to penalty.”
CNN’s Nathaniel Meyerson contributed to this article.