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Eight Unexpected Contraband Items That Nearly Made it Into SoCal

Everyone knows packing firearms, combustibles, and large quantities of liquid in a carry-on ensures some one-on-one time with airport security before a flight.  It's the recent discovery of other contraband items by local port and airport officials--from live animals to faux designer duds--that might surprise you

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( NO. 1 )
Japanese Turtles
Seized: 55 live turtles and tortoises were tucked into snack food boxes and flown into LAX in 2011. The exotic pets were uncovered through a government sting called (no joke) Operation Flying Turtle. 

 

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( NO. 2 )
Bogus Viagra
Seized: 40,000 faux performance pills from South Korea, worth $700,000, were discovered at LAX. Nationwide, officials have rounded up bootleg products nearly 25,000 times in the past two years.

 

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( NO. 3 )
Pork Tamales
Seized: 77 pounds of the porcine treat—about the weight of a sixth grader—were brought over the U.S.-Mexico border at Tecate. Officials destroyed the illegal meat, and the driver received a $175 fine. 

 

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( NO. 4 )
Counterfeit Jeans
Seized: $4 million in knockoff designer goods from China were found at the L.A./Long Beach port during a holiday season raid in 2011. One shipping container included 966 cartons of fake True Religion jeans. 

 

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( NO. 5 )
Benjamins
Seized: $818,813, wrapped in 31 bundles, were hidden inside a car at the Calexico port of entry. That stash is a mere fraction of the unchecked millions flowing in and out of the United States every year.

 

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( NO. 6 )
Palm Trees
Seized: 82,000 vehicles transporting plant materials were rejected by border inspectors in 2010 due to the threat of red fire ants. Parts of L.A., Orange, and Riverside counties are struggling with infestations. 

 

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( NO. 7 )
Produce
Seized: 48 mangoes and roughly 200 red plums were unearthed by El Paso authorities in the laundry bag of a California-bound driver. The fruits harbored the larvae of highly destructive Mexican fruit flies. 

 

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( NO. 8 )
Microchips
Seized: 1,932 karaoke machines, packed with phony computer chips bearing the name of the tech company SanDisk, were secured at the Long Beach port. Resale value of the chips: nearly $1 million.