Mexico border patrol levies hefty fines for undeclared medication


US Customs and Border Protection officers working pedestrian operations at the Andrade port of entry had a busy weekend intercepting undeclared medication and levying fines in excess of US$14,000 for violations in three separate incidents.

The first seizure occurred on Friday, April 23, at approximately 3:00 pm when a 66-year-old female US citizen from Pinehurst, Idaho, applied for entry into the US. When asked by a CBP officer what she was bringing from Mexico, the subject declared medication and presented a white pharmacy bag. The CBP officer examined the medication and noticed one of the pill bottles had been opened. A closer inspection revealed there was more medication in the bottle (984 pills) than indicated so the subject was referred to the secondary inspection area. The medication was seized and the traveler was penalized US$11,780. She signed a promissory note and was released without further incident.

The second incident occurred on Saturday, April 24 at approximately 10:30 am when an 89-year-old female US citizen from Sun City, Arizona, applied for entry into the US, declaring medication and other miscellaneous items. When asked numerous times if she had anything else to declare, the subject responded she had nothing further to declare. Upon a subsequent search of her purse, CBP officers found two undeclared bottles of Carisoprodol (100 pills) and Valium (90 pills). The subject admitted she was told by the pharmacist in Mexico to hide the pills inside her purse. The medication was seized and the subject was penalized US$2,000. She paid the penalty and was released.

The final incident also occurred about 45 minutes later when a 51-year-old female US citizen from Idaho Falls, Idaho, applied for entry into the US, declaring medication and other items. After observing the subject appearing nervous, the CBP officer opened the medication bottles and noticed the seals had been tampered with. The CBP officer referred the traveler to the secondary inspection area where officers discovered the pill bottles marked as Tramadol actually contained Phentermine (100 pills). The medication was seized and a US$2,000 penalty was assessed. She paid the penalty and was released.

Andrade port director Ray Nagy said it is important for travelers to know the requirements before passing through ports of entry such as Andrade and there is a wealth of information available to educate the public on the CBP website: .

“We believe a well-informed traveler will have a safe, more enjoyable, relaxing experience,” he said. “Therefore, it is advised travelers familiarize themselves with the ‘Know Before You Go’ section of the CBP website before traveling out of the country.”

In addition, Nagy also said the “Know Before You Go” section of the website features the “Top 10 Travel Tips” and “Frequently Asked Questions” sections.

“The website provides useful information about necessary documentation to prove citizenship and information about allowed and prohibited items,” he said. “I strongly suggest travelers read it.”

Nagy also said it is imperative for travelers to understand there is a price to pay for not following the rules by failing to declare or attempting to smuggle medications, agriculture products, alcohol, and other items.

“In these cases, there was misconception and misinformation, which is unfortunate,” he said. “Bottom line, travelers face stiff civil penalties or possible criminal prosecution for failing to declare items at an US port or entry. Always declare everything acquired abroad. Lack of knowledge is not an acceptable excuse.”