When you think about things that are confiscated at border security, drugs, and other contraband are probably the first items that pop in your head. But, believe it or not, TSA agents have seen crazier and far more bizarre items that you wouldn't believe travelers think they can hide in luggage’s on even on them when passing through security.
Travelers who want to bring along banned items along with them while flying to another country or driving across the border are getting more and more creative with hiding their illegal goods. From stuffing money into baked goods to even managing to sedate a tiger cub and putting it in a carry-on bag, these certain people believe they can outsmart TSA agents and customs officials. People who try to sneak in things like ancient artifacts, exotic animals and thousands of dollars, cannot get passed TSA scans that can now detect pretty much everything. However, these so-called smugglers are willing to risk their lives to bring items that are sought after by various people for all sorts of reasons.
This list of 23 things that were actually confiscated at border security will make your jaw drop. More crooks are willing to do whatever it takes to conceal all sorts of illegal goods and contraband, from live animals to even human body parts. Thankfully, TSA agents have managed to nab a few of these people.
23 Live Chickens
A traveler was making his way from the United States to Mexico and thought it was a good idea to bring his homegrown chickens across the border. However, this man wasn't going to use the chickens to lay eggs, he was bringing them across the border to have them partake in an illegal ring of chicken fighting. In order to sneak his chickens across the border, the driver reportedly packed them in individual nylon stockings and believed their clucks would quiet down. Thinking that he can get away, border patrol quickly discovered the chickens and saved them from being harmed in the ring.
22 Over 200 Pounds Of Meat
When you're traveling to a foreign country where you're favorite snack might not be sold in stores, you might put one or two of these goodies in your bag with you so that you'll have some comfort food on your travels. One woman with a love of meat, bologna to be specific, took things way too far when she was discovered hiding over 200 pounds of bologna in her car. According to a report by CBS, a woman was passing into the U.S. from Paso El Norte border crossing and told border security she did not have any meat, fruits or vegetables in her vehicle. However, that was not the case when officials found 227 pounds of Mexican bologna hidden under the floor mats of her car. Sadly, all her meat was confiscated.
21 A Strange Ashtray
Wildlife smuggling is a big operation and people constantly think they can get through security with these illegal items. One such item was pretty disturbing and was found in one man's car that was crossing the border into Canada. Border security spotted a very odd ashtray in the man's vehicle and what they discovered was that it was actually made up of a real gorilla hand. When border patrol asked the man to show a permit, the man revealed that he didn't have one so that's when the ashtray was confiscated, handed over to Environment Canada, and the man was given a pretty hefty fine.
20 Wooly Mammoth Tusks
It's important that you always declare whatever goods you brought with you when crossing into another border. However, two Canadians thought they could fool border security when asked how much their entire collection of various different "souvenirs" was worth. After returning from an exotic location with their items, the two individuals had one very unique good along with their collection of souvenirs, a mammoth tusk valued at $6,000. When they reached the border of their hometown airport, they told border patrol officers that their goods were worth $760. The officers were able to find out that they were lying and their goods were confiscated and had to pay a $3,000 fee.
19 Live Song Birds
A man named Sonny Doug apparently thought taping live songbirds to his calves and hiding them under his pants would easily fool TSA agents at Los Angeles International Airport. For whatever reason, Doug needed over a dozen songbirds and attempted to smuggle them into the U.S. According to a report, his songbirds would not stop chirping and he couldn’t keep them quiet while getting through airport security. The Department of Justice detained the man and found all of the birds taped on his legs. Doug was later charged with smuggling and paid a hefty price for his not-so-creative smuggling attempt.
18 Lipstick Stun Gun
To feel more secure and safe, many women carry pepper spray in their purses that are small and very discreet. One company managed to develop an even more discreet item for women that resembles a lipstick but is actually a stun gun. These small stun guns can be carried around in a small purse or on a keychain for easy access whenever you are in danger. Even though the stun gun is quite small, it is still not allowed through airport security. One passenger decided to take her lipstick stun gun with her, which was quickly confiscated by TSA agents. Whether she forgot she had it or not, these types of items are never allowed no matter how small or pretty it is.
17 Replica Bomb Vest
The things people think are okay to bring aboard a plane are quite baffling. Take for instance this one traveler who brought this extremely alarming vest with him in his carry-on bag. According to Newsday, a traveler packed this vest with a fake bomb in it at Richmond International Airport, stating it was a prop to use in a live action role-playing game. TSA explosives experts had to rush to the checked baggage room along with police officers, who eventually determined the vest was not dangerous. Still, why would anyone decide that bringing a vest like this to an airport is okay?
16 A Fake Security Vehicle
Smugglers will do just about anything to sneak contraband across the border like in this situation when a smuggler attempted to use a fake border patrol vehicle. According to a report from CNN, in August 2018, a traveler attempted to enter the United States using a mock Medical Emergency Services vehicle. A K-9 unit quickly alerted border security about how the car seemed a little strange, and when the driver was pressed with questions, he sped off! However, he didn't get far and was apprehended and taken to jail along with his three "patients" who were also in the vehicle.
15 Large African Snails
Apparently, there is a large market in the United States for abnormally large snails. Smugglers attempted to conceal 67 Giant African Snails through shipping services from Nigeria to California, but the shipment was seized after they found out what was inside. The snails were all alive and seized at Los Angeles International Airport in July of 2014. The snails weighed over 35 pounds and can actually grow up to 8 inches in length. According to one report, customs has dealt with smugglers trying to bring in these unusually large snails into the U.S. before.
14 Money Hidden In Sweets
On New Years, there is a Greek tradition where a coin is slipped into bread and when the bread or cake is cut up, the person who finds the coin in their piece is supposed to have good luck for the new year. Called Vasilopita, the idea of hiding money into baked goods and sweets has become another creative way smugglers are hiding contraband. These travelers would slip thousands of dollars or drugs into muffins, cakes, and even candy bags. The U.S. border has confiscated hundreds of these shipments like pastries filled with cash. It looks like smugglers need to think of new ways to smuggle their money!
13 76 Live Turtles
Imagine having live 76 live turtles and tortoises in your car while driving to another country? That is what one 22-year-old Windsor man did on July 6, 2013, when he thought he could outsmart border security when trying to cross the Ambassador Bridge into Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency found over $6,000 worth of animals in the man's vehicle, all in a hidden compartment that is used for stowing seats. The driver was reportedly going to sell all 76 turtles and tortoises once he made it across the border. However, he ended up getting charged with making false statements and attempting to evade payment of duties and taxes.
12 Fake Bomb Alarm Clock
In 2015, a young 15-year-old boy learned a very tough lesson when he brought along a novelty alarm clock that looked like several sticks of dynamite bound together with a timer into his carry on bag. According to CTV News, screening staff at Toronto's Pearson Airport called in a police bomb disposal unit in September of 2015 when they detected what they believed to be was an explosive device. The police at the airport said the device was fake, and the teen ended up being charged with mischief. Pearson police even tweeted a picture of the item and captioned it, "Would you pack this in your carry on luggage?"
11 Fish Bladders
Smuggling fish bladder is a real thing and supposedly holds various integral healing properties. The bladders of Totoaba, also known as Giant Bass, are worth up to $20,000 each, and smugglers will do anything to get them to countries like China. Apparently, people have been getting these fish parts into the United States and then ship them off to China, where they are in extremely high demand. These fish are an endangered species, but that doesn't seem to stop smugglers from nabbing them and getting them to China. Once they have successfully made the journey, the bladders are dried out and used as an ingredient for soups.
A German couple made one of the most bizarre smuggling attempts in 2012 when their luggage was seized at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on the way back from a trip to South America. When opening their luggage, customs officials found 200 live tarantulas, as well as an assortment of bugs, like millipedes and grasshoppers. The couple collected all of these insects while on their trip to Peru, placing the spiders into individual plastic bags and the other bugs in tubes and containers, which they then hid in their clothing. Apparently, there is a high demand for insects like these and some of the tarantulas were actually a rare species.
9 Cow Brains
In 2012, a customs agent at the Cairo International Airport discovered a disturbing 420 pounds of cow brains that were kept in large freezer boxes brought by traverse from Sudan. Apparently, cow brains are a delicacy in countries like Egypt, where the brains are deep fried and served with pita bread and a spicy sauce. According to an article by The Richest, cow brains can cost up to six dollars per pound in Egypt. In Sudan, cow brains are bought for just one dollar per pound, so the men smuggling over 400 pounds of cow brains were basically looking to make a lot more money. Customs officials stated that it had been the fourth seizure of cow brains that same week!
8 Frozen Chicken Wings
According to a report from Fashion Beans, in February 2017, approximately 180,000 pounds of chicken wings were seized from a shipment coming from the Netherlands heading to Malaysia. The chicken wings were never delivered because of faulty paperwork and officials didn't even know who had actually imported all that meat. Malaysian officials did not know what to do with all the chicken wings and made the decision to bury them at a large disposal site. However, locals found out what the officials had done and began digging up the wings to cook and later eat.
7 A Giant Squash
British officials were caught off by surprise and shock when a shipment from Asia contained a squash that was so big, a small child would be able to fit inside it. Seen in the actual picture above, the squash weighed about 60 pounds and was a whopping four feet long. Along with the large squash, British officials also found 175 pounds of fish that were being imported illegally. At the same airport, officials decided to search a man's bag and thought they found an explosive, however, the item ended up being a container of haggis.
6 A Chameleon
Chameleon's are known for changing colors to match the objects they are touching or objects that are around them. In 2002, one 17-year-old girl brought her chameleon to the airport and it blended in so well with her headscarf, that she and her pet made it past airport security! This British girl gained a lot of attention at the airport in Manchester, England when other passengers saw her with the chameleon and decided to take photos of her with it. Airport security made their way to the girl and the circle of people around her to notice that she had the chameleon on top of her headscarf, blending with her fabric. According to BBC, she bought the chameleon as a pet in a Saudi Arabian market. However, when customs officials spoke to reptile experts they learned that it was endangered and confiscated her pet.
5 Ancient Artifacts
Ancient artifacts are regularly flown via plane as long as the correct paperwork goes along with these priceless items. Obviously, you cannot carry ancient artifacts with you if they are stolen, and TSA agents can confiscate them without official paperwork. In Newark, several ancient Chinese artifacts were seized by TSA agents, including a 5,000-year-old pot and a horse and rider figurine dating back to the Tang Dynasty. There have also been reports about stolen Egyptian artifacts like a sarcophagus, going through airport security!
4 Illegal Substances In A Foosball Table
The New York Daily News reported on a story about a woman who thought she was pretty creative with the way she decided to hide her contraband. This Canadian woman was arrested for trying to smuggle 50 bags of drugs into the United States by hiding all of it inside of a foosball table. U.S. Border Patrol agents took the 33-year-old woman into custody in January of 2013. The 50 bags inside the foosball table were estimated to be worth a whopping $60,000. Smugglers continue to try anything and everything to get contraband across the border, but you can't fool border security!
Last year, a man from San Antonio attempted to smuggle 25 puppies inside duffel bags into the United States at a port entry in Laredo, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The man had tried to cross the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge and after going through a second inspection, agents found the 25 puppies hidden in the bags. He was later charged with 23 counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals, according to jail records. According to My San Antonio, importing puppies are allowed only if the dogs are vaccinated, are in good health, are at least six months old and most importantly, have an import permit from the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
2 Novelty Grenades
Many war items might be made into replica novelty items, but that doesn't mean they are okay to bring on a plane. TSA agents have actually found many grenades made from solid gold, part of art sculptures, in jewelry and are just fakes when searching through passengers' baggage. TSA agents never treat finding these fake grenades as a joke and people bringing them along on a plane shouldn’t either. "All grenades are treated as real until the explosives experts can prove otherwise, which often leads to delayed flights or luggage," according to TSA's Instagram feed. Just leave this novelty item at home if you don’t want it confiscated.
1 A Tiger Cub
In 2010, a woman was arrested at Bangkok International Airport after an X-ray of her luggage showed something extremely bizarre. The woman believed she could cleverly fool customs by loading her suitcase full of stuffed animals and alive, two-month-old tiger cub. The tiger cub was drugged and strapped into her carry-on luggage as if it was just another stuffed animal. The woman couldn't fool anyone and she was immediately arrested. Apparently, the woman was going to try and sell the tiger cub on the black market in Iran and probably getting a pretty good amount of money for it. Thankfully, she was caught and the tiger cub lived happily in a wildlife conservation park.
References: newsday.com, nydailynews.com, fashionbeans.com, ctvnews.com, mysanantonio.com