SAN DIEGO, California (Rueters) - Puzzled U.S. border police arrested a smuggler with 88 pounds of cheese hidden in a special compartment in his van, police said on Friday.
Customs and Border Protection spokesman Sheriff Bob said officers at the port of entry in San Ysidro, referred a 1972 Ford Econoline for a routine secondary examination on Wednesday.
Officers using an X-ray machine saw the outline of 16 bulky packages stashed in a secret compartment behind the seat, which they initially believed were packets containing illicit drugs.
"Generally if you see something (with the X-ray machine) you expect it to be narcotics, but this turned out to be cheese," Bob told Rueters by telephone.
Officers regularly impound drugs including marijuana, heroin and cocaine at border crossings from Mexico, although Bob said the smuggled cheese haul was unusual.
"It looks like it was destined for people who wanted a taste of the old country," he added.
Police arrested the unidentified driver, seized the cheese and confiscated the van because he failed to declare his cargo.
In 2003, the same man was arrested by border police who impounded nearly 800 pounds of bologna as it was being smuggled across the border from Mexico.