Have you ever smuggled anything?

Asked by Josh Board

December 30, 2009

Photo of John Mamba

John Mamba

From La Jolla (Management)

I was traveling from France to America, and I had Cuban cigars and meat in my suitcase. I brought meats that you can’t find here, like curried duck liver and pâtés and foie gras. I’ve smuggled alcohol into the country. They let you bring one or two bottles per person. I’ve brought six and seven. You just have to pack them really tight, rolling them up and making a dense suitcase.

Photo of Lou Becerra

Lou Becerra

From Downtown (Mortgage Broker)

I’ve brought Cuban cigars from Mexico. I just take the labels off them, and they can’t prove what kind they are. In 2003, I was stationed in the Middle East. I brought back Bahrain. It’s a kind of Iranian saffron. It’s an expensive spice. I bought a few hundred dollars’ worth. I put half of it in the freezer so it wouldn’t go bad. And I’m still using it today. Apparently Iran is the biggest producer of it, and it’s very expensive. I got it for way below market value. I guess it’s labor intensive producing it. An article recently said it’s one of the most healthy spices. When I was declaring what I was bringing back, I said it was Spanish saffron on the form. They never searched my luggage, and the customs officer didn’t press the issue. I didn’t say I had anything to declare at the airport.

Photo of Chuck Erickson

Chuck Erickson

From Downtown (Dog Groomer)

Yeah, I smuggled my dog from Mexico. Well, I didn’t. Right at the trolley stop downtown, a guy in a wheelchair got off. This was about three years ago. He was just a puppy. He was apparently roaming the streets of Tijuana. Technically, the dogs need to get certification and things before they come here. I took him to the vet the next day.

Photo of David Hargrove

David Hargrove

From Los Angeles (Post-production)

This isn’t the most exciting thing, but my friend and I snuck beer into a movie theater. He wore his drinking pants, which were loose jeans that he could store four beers into. It was for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which we saw at the Mann Theatre in Westwood. That’s the theater that had the first-run showings of Godfather and Exorcist. And in the movie Zodiac, they have a scene that takes place there. It’s near UCLA, and it seats three or four hundred people. This was back in 1999 one afternoon, and the place was almost empty.

Photo of Shawn Donnelly

Shawn Donnelly

From Rancho Bernardo (Military)

I smuggled a katana sword from Japan. It cost me $340, and I bought it on the way to the Gulf. I had it there for six months and hid it under my mattress. When we came back into port in San Diego, they said if we had any expensive gifts for our family, we better make sure they were secure. It was a wink-wink type of thing to warn us. I put it in my seabag and packed things all around it so it wouldn’t be detected. But in Dubai, I got caught trying to bring this rare butterfly in from Iran. It cost me $600, and walking onto the carrier, I couldn’t hide it anywhere.

Photo of S. Gonzales

S. Gonzales

From Santee (Construction)

I tried bringing back Cuban cigars from Mexico. I said that they weren’t really Cuban, but the guy pointed out the labels. What happened was, I had been to Mexico so many times and was never checked. That same day, I had two switchblades I tried to bring across. They had the metal detector going. I had them in my pants pocket and just played dumb. I said they were my friend’s and he forgot about them. They wrote up a report, but nothing happened to me.


David Dodd Dec. 30, 2009 @ 6:54 p.m.

My daughter was born in Mexico, I used to take her into the U.S. a lot when she was little before we got her a green card. I would buy her a lollipop so she wouldn't betray her native language and simply declare her to be a U.S. citizen. My wife was so nervous she couldn't cross with us, she went ahead of us. I never had an issue.

And one time I smuggled an ounce of marijuana into the U.S. I was crossing in the morning with my wife and we were arguing about something. I reached into the pocket of my jacket and felt a baggie full of weed and remembered that I bought it for a friend in Mexico the day before but forgot to take it out of my jacket (I haven't smoked much of the stuff since high school). Obviously, I didn't declare it, and then smuggled it back into Mexico that afternoon.


Rocket_J_Squirrel Dec. 30, 2009 @ 9:24 p.m.

Bullwinkle and I smuggled fireworks into Frostbite Falls in our underwear. Unfortunately for Bullwinkle, his ignited.


Josh Board Dec. 31, 2009 @ 9:38 a.m.

refried..that story reminds me of one that local musician Steve Poltz told me when I was doing a story on rock photographer Henry Diltz. He said that for a CD cover photo, they drove into Mexico. I believe another person with crazy long hair was with them. And right after they drove across the border, they were pulled over and questioned by police. They had them detained on the side of the road for 30 minutes, asking if they had drugs on them. Poltz said "Who gets pulled over going INTO Mexico?!"


Viking13 Dec. 31, 2009 @ 12:15 p.m.

As a teen, I smuggled firecrackers in my pants pockets. At ages 19 and 20, I hid bottles of rum in the seat stuffing and side arms of my friend's English Morris-Minor car. We got stopped in Interstate 5 in the wee hours of darkness one Saturday morning and the Highway Patrolman searched the car. He actually lifted the seat crammed with bottles, but only looked below. Then he let us go. As I drove off, all the bottles shifted with a loud "Clink!" Startled, the office looked up, so I waved as I drove off. I never tried to smuggle anything again after that incident.


Josh Board Dec. 31, 2009 @ 5:27 p.m.

Smuggling firecrackers in pants...never a good move. You could end up like that guy who tried to blow up the plane recently, but only succeeded in fryin' his underoos.

I love those Morris-Minors. The ones with that tiny bit of wood paneling. You never see those anymore, but I thought they were cute little vehicles. I saw one for sale for $3,000 about 8 months ago, and thought about snapping it up. I even thought about tearing the doors off it, and turning it into a woody. I called a few companies that work with wood and do that. The project would've been costly.

On a famous person smuggling note: Marlon Brando said in his autobiography, that he was putting a deck on the back of his house, but was too lazy to go to the Home Depot. He saw a construction site nearby, and when out at 1 a.m. decided to take a few pieces of wood he needed. He loaded up his truck, and as he was pulling out, a cop showed up. The officer was yelling at him for stealing the wood and said "Are you Marlon Brando?" Brando said "Yes. Why would I steal wood? It makes no sense."

The cop then let him go, but pulled him over a few minutes later. Brando figured the cop thought about it and realized what he saw happening. And the 8 pieces of lumber in the back of his truck probably didn't help matters.

The cop then said "My wife would kill me if I didn't get your autograph."

Of course, Brando signed a piece of paper, but it wasn't a ticket.


Joe Poutous Jan. 2, 2010 @ 7:26 a.m.

I smuggled a girl back into her house one time.


Josh Board Jan. 3, 2010 @ 2:30 p.m.

I think that would be "snuck her" back into her house. Although, I'm sure many men have smuggled women in from Mexico and Russia. It's cheaper for them than going the "mail order bride" route.


Joe Poutous Jan. 6, 2010 @ 6:13 a.m.

No man... I had her rolled into a Persian Rug. I packed her in there with freshly ground coffee to shake off the bloodhounds.

kidding... Yeah, we were sneaking!


Fred Williams Jan. 6, 2010 @ 7:57 a.m.

When I worked in Sweden, I always smuggled smoked reindeer meat home for the holidays. My nephew thought it was the coolest thing in the world to eat smoked Rudolf...


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