Crossing countries while we travel is a normal thing, especially for people who do it frequently. Usually, we’d already know what to do, have it in our minds the dos and don’ts of packing or bringing stuff with us that would raise flags with the TSA, Border Patrol, or whatever form of security there is waiting for us. There they are waiting for us to open our bags, or declare things before they let us pass through. But there are moments, and apparently, these moments are not seldom as one might think so, that the weirdest things get discovered by these authorities, leading to confiscation, detainment of the passenger, or worse, flights getting delayed or jail time.
We have collected 14 of the strangest things confiscated by authorities at the United States border, and 10 weirdest things discovered by officials at the Canadian border. Whether it’s through land or air, these crazy items are things that no one might think any sane person would try and smuggle, or accidentally pack in their bags or vehicles. Some may be doing it deliberately, others are just forgetful, or maybe just plain crazy or stupid, or both. So buckle up, fill out that declaration form, and get ready for an article that will blow your mind. Here are 24 strange things confiscated at the US and Canadian borders.
24 US Border: Tamales
The tamale is a dish that’s traditionally prepared by people south of the US border. These are wrapped in corn husks, some in plantain leaves, and are steamed to perfection. Tamales are tasty, some versions of it include meat, but the base ingredient is masa, a kind of corn dough. US Customs confiscated and destroyed about 400 tamales brought by a man coming from Mexico. The man failed to declare them upon entry, then officials discovered there was pork in them.
23 US Border: Walking Dead Bat
Negan is quite a character in the TV series The Walking Dead. Matching his personality is his weapon of choice, a bat that he dearly calls Lucille. Lucille has barbed wire wrapped all around her and is fatal to both humans and the undead. A replica of this bat was confiscated by the TSA in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Although it’s just an imitation, bats are not allowed in carry-on luggage and should be with a passenger’s checked baggage. See you later, Lucille.
22 US Border: Car Seat Person
The United States Border Patrol must have had very keen training when it comes to recognizing mundane things such as car seats. Any regular fella would just scan the inside of a vehicle and would never look closely at the seats. That’s at least what this man coming from Mexico though. He somehow agreed to travel miles as a car seat in a van. The Business Insider reports the man’s name to be Enrique Aguilar, a Mexican trying to get through the border illegally.
21 US Border: Live Eels
The law is clear about bringing live animals through borders, both in the United States and the rest of the world. It is simpler when these creatures are domestic ones like pets or livestock. But if it’s not a dog or a goat, then there will be some additional rules and the first step is declaring them. At the Miami International Airport, a passenger failed to declare live eels, together with an assortment of other sea creatures, unfortunately for him, they were all confiscated.
20 US Border: Roasted Pig Head
Pork is delicious, but the animal is dangerous. US law states that any kind of pork that comes from another country will be stopped. This is mainly to prevent the spread of diseases such as swine fever and foot and mouth disease. A roasted pig was intercepted in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and surely destroyed after a great (and cute) sniffing dog caught its scent. This happened just last October. USA Today reports that the K-9 hero was a beagle named Hardy.
19 US Border: Not Candy Bars
A famous candy bar brand was used to smuggle illegal drugs through US Customs on a flight going to Japan. They were expertly wrapped and could even pass inspection even if the officer opened one candy bar wrapper and looked inside. There was a real chocolate coating, but the weight of it felt wrong and authorities got concerned about that part. ABC News has the full story on how California native Rogelio Mauricio Harris tried to sneak out more than 4 pounds of illegal substances through customs. The candy bar should have read “sneakers” instead, haha!
18 US Border: Feline Cub
Who would have thought that anyone could get incarcerated for trying to bring a cat through the US border? Certainly, Luis Valencia did not think it was possible. Oh, how he thought wrong. He did not try to sneak into the country just a regular domestic cat, he brought a baby Bengal tiger. Officials seized the tiger cub at a checkpoint in San Diego and Valencia was sentenced to six months for the illegal act. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the cub is now in San Diego Zoo’s care.
17 US Border: Meat in Puzzle Box
We think most people already know that they can’t just enter the United States with uncooked meat of any kind without declaring it and having it tested, certified, or examined. There are those that are manufactured and packaged properly (sealed of course) that can pass through, but only after further inspection. People get creative trying to smuggle meat, and in this case, they hid it inside a puzzle box. Of course, our trained professionals of the US Customs at the Dulles Airport found it and seized the contraband.
16 US Border: Hand Grenade
Saying the word is dangerous enough inside airplanes and at airports, it’s like ‘he who must not be named’ or ‘you know who’ from the Harry Potter books. Bringing something that clearly illustrates and represents the word is a different case entirely. At Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), a man was arrested for carrying a device from World War II. It was an ancient hand grenade. We’re sure the man only wanted to take it home as a memento, but he should have known better putting it in his hand carry, or even in his checked bag for that matter.
15 US Border: Live Tarantulas
Exotic creatures are a big red flag for TSA and the whole border patrol and security community. But it’s always kind of entertaining learning about what kind of animal these officials encounter and come across every once in a while. In this case, it’s live tarantulas. Tarantulas are huge creepy crawlies, scary and venomous, of the arachnid family. A package full of these gigantic, hairy spiders were discovered and later taken care of by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
14 US Border: Song Birds
Why take the trouble of intricately designing your leg area, both legs in this case, with tiny compartments for little birds to go into and be transported through security? Ask Sony Dong and he will say that selling songbirds is a lucrative business. Yes, we learned that, unfortunately, songbirds are one of the unlucky small animals people try to smuggle everywhere for selling. The Telegraph reports that Mr. Dong tried to smuggle these birds from Vietnam into LAX.
13 US Border: Dragon Claw
Knives are sharp weapons that are absolutely prohibited in checked baggage at airports. We can’t believe pictures of bins the TSA confiscates daily at checkpoints from passengers who perhaps forget they packed a weapon with them, like knives or other sharp objects. But this particular object is a little strange. It is definitely a knife, and could definitely be harmful. It’s a rather elegant model of a sharp knife designed as a claw that fits on a finger. The TSA shared an image of it on their Instagram feed.
12 US Border: Batarangs
The Dark Knight’s influence is far-reaching. It can lead fans to pack their luggage with Batman paraphernalia, not thinking they could be confiscated by authorities. This is exactly what happened at Charlottesville Airport in Albemarle County, Virginia. The airport’s checkpoint found three very authentic-looking batarangs in one carry-on bag. Batarangs are Bruce Wayne’s version of a boomerang and a ninja star rolled into one. They should have detained the passenger and interrogated him into admitting he is the Caped Crusader’s butler.
11 US Border: Giant African Land Snails
One big reason why live animals are not easily let through by authorities is the possibility of these animals disrupting the natural ecosystem. Take, for example, giant African land snails. These are snails that grow to a size larger than a grown man’s hand. They are considered pests and can wipe out crops, but in slow motion, haha! It could be devastating to a country’s agricultural landscape if such a creature is introduced and flourished in the new environment. Travelers try to get them in the country as pets or for food, now that’s supersized escargot!
10 Canada Border: Sausage in Diapers
People who try to smuggle prohibited stuff do not seem to experience a shortage of inventive means of doing it. They just make it entertaining for us, and they get caught like 100 percent of the time. A passenger at Pearson International Airport in Toronto tried to smuggle some sausages and hid them inside diapers. Yes, that’s right! They were wrapped in aluminum foil, plastic, and diapers. It did not pass through though, as Canada’s Global News reports the attempt was thwarted by two K-9 sniffers.
9 Canada Border: Cane Eats
Following on the case of the giant African land snail, Canada has its own version of animals that could be devastating, not just to agriculture, but to domestic life as we know it. Cane rats, or grasscutter rats, are rodents native to Africa. Just like the snails, these creatures are huge, could grow to a size bigger than a cat, and are hunted for bushmeat. A container of dead cane rats was discovered by officials at the Calgary International Airport. They never really found out what the reason was for trying to transport the rat corpses.
8 Canada Border: Aston Martin
Aston Martin is a very popular car manufacturer in the United Kingdom. They specialize in luxury vehicles, like sports cars and roadsters. Having the money to purchase one is impressive, but why would one try to sneak an Aston Martin into Canadian borders and not declare it? The reason for this we’ll never understand. The man who chose not to declare the new vehicle ended up having to pay more in fines and law-breaking. He’s just too used to living life in the fast lane.
7 Canada Border: Just an Alarm Clock
Everyone knows that uttering the word "bomb" in an airport is enough to cause a frenzy and even get yourself arrested. That's why we're confused as to why a teen thought it would be a good idea to pack this novelty alarm clock in his carry-on luggage. Needless to say, he won't be having a blast. It may have eventually turned out that the item was harmless, but security agents may often be lacking a sense of humor when it comes to their jobs and the security of passengers.
6 Canada Border: Weird Aphrodisiac
This one is as weird as they come. Have you ever heard of cat penis as an aphrodisiac? Well, we hadn’t either, until now. When regular prescribed western medicine doesn’t work anymore, some people go east to find a miracle cure. These bizarre aphrodisiacs collected from felines are well-known and believed to be effective in Asian countries like China. The Chinese really have some strange ideas in terms of herbs and weird concoctions that are supposed to be good for what ails someone. It’s considered meat and was confiscated immediately.
5 Canada Border: Turtles
These hard-shelled creatures are good pets and believed to be good luck as well. But transporting them through Canadian borders would require more than cuteness and adorable factor. The culprit was illegally sending turtles from Canada to China. They were purchased in Michigan then sent them to Canada for shipment. He was caught at an Ontario border and 51 turtles were confiscated. The Star recounts the incident and reports that the guilty man was sentenced to 5 years for the illegal and inhumane act.
4 Canada Border: Hippopotamus Tusks
At Edmonton International Airport, authorities were able to seize and confiscate a rare item. These were not live animals or prohibited drugs. They were hippopotamus tusks. Hippos are big African mammals that look gentle but are very fierce creatures, and yes, they have tusks like their elephant cousins. They were declared as replica hippo tusks, but upon further examination, our experts saw things about them that clearly said otherwise. There were discoloration and growth marks, and they were confiscated right away.
3 Canada Border: Not a Cell Phone
We were not informed by Apple that their iPhones have a stun gun feature in them, now did we? Canada’s Border Patrol was quick to recognize these fake iPhones as truly stun guns. There were 12 of them carried by a man crossing into Canada. However, he was detained for possession of a prohibited weapon, 12 counts of it. Guns.com reports it on their website, but the man’s identity was not revealed. At least Apple just stuns you and does not explode in your pocket.
2 Canada Border: Assorted Food Items
It’s quite bizarre to find an assortment of meat, dairy, and other products hidden and not declared by a passenger. This case is extra bizarre as it is like the passenger went on a grocery run and forgot about the goods. As reported by the Calgary Herald, the suitcase contained rather large quantities of duck meat, butter, pastrami, and raw chicken. It was sniffed out by the super cute K-9 detector Kodiak. The suitcase also contained some seeds and milk. The fine was hefty, he should have just declared them.
1 Canada Border: Strawberry Jam
There is nothing suspicious about a regular jar of strawberry jam, especially if it’s found inside the bag of a kid. But Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA, rules clearly state that any kind of liquid or gel that’s over the limit of 100 ml will be confiscated when packed with carry-on luggage. Jam is considered a gel, even if the flavor is delicious strawberry and it’s made especially for us by our dear grandma. No exceptions here, rules are rules, and they are for our own safety. Have a safe trip everyone!
References: TheLoop, ImmiGroup, Narcity, Hotcars, HuffingtonPost