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Here’s What Happens When You Try Smuggling 8800 lbs. of Cheese into Canada

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Haissam Azaar has formally been charged C$30,000 for attempted smuggling. But it wasn’t drugs that Azaar was trying to bring into Canada.

You might have heard that seizures of cannabis products at the Canadian border rose after adult use marijuana became legal across the country last year. While Canada legalized recreational cannabis last fall, it’s still illegal to import cannabis from outside the country. But marijuana isn’t the only thing that people are trying to smuggle into Canada.

When Haissam Azaar tried to enter Canada from the US in January of 2018, the Canada Border Services Agency made quite the discovery. Azaar had attempted to bring nearly 8800 pounds of undeclared cheese across the border.

Azaar’s massive haul of illegal cheese. Courtesy CBSA.

All that dairy goodness was seized by the CBSA, which is calling the bust a huge win in protecting the Canadian food system.

Seizures like this serve as a reminder of the vital role CBSA officers play in preventing risks to Canada’s food safety as well as contributing to Canada’s economic security,” CBSA St. Lawrence District Director Darren Frank said in a press release.

Neglecting to declare goods that you’re bringing from the US to Canada is an offense that comes with a fine that’s determined by how much you overstepped the restrictions on imports. When it comes to dairy products, you aren’t allowed to bring more than $20 into Canada. Legally importing cheese above that amount requires a permit and payment of some pretty expensive tariffs.

Those tariffs have given smugglers an incentive to sneak cheese into Canada, and Azaar certainly isn’t the first to try and fail to do just that. Back in 2016 a BC food importer was hit with a C$25,000 fine for smuggling over 19,000 pounds over cheese across a five-year period.

h/​t National Post

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