How did they know he had a ham?
April 14, 2008 2:49 PM Subscribe
How did US customs know he had a ham in his carry-on bag?
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy to travel & transportation (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So this friend is coming home from a trip to Spain and in the airport there buys a nice little piece of jamon iberico, which he sticks in his carry-on bag. Somewhere along the way, it occurs to him that US customs asks if you have any meat or food products, but figures they must mean vegetables and raw meat, not a piece of ham thats been vacuum sealed and bought at an airport, promptly forgets about it and marks NO on the customs form.
At the US airport, he goes through passport control, picks up his luggage and hands the form to the customs guy. Without even looking at the bag, they immediately send him over to secondary agricultural inspection, where he confesses to the ham, which is tossed into a bin, his bags go through some kind of x-ray-like machine and he's allowed to leave with a verbal warning about bringing potentially dangerous foodstuffs into the United States and the $300 fine for not declaring them.
Here's the thing: he's been through that airport customs at least 25 times in the last couple of years and never once been sent to secondary inspection, so its statistically very unlikely this was a random search. The bag never went through any kind of inspection and there didn't seem to be any dogs sniffing around.
How did they know he had a ham? Some kind of secret x-ray while they check your passport? Invisible dogs? Secret sniffing devices set to detect the faint smell of vacuum-sealed meat as well as anthrax?