Canadian border authorities say that they have issued a large fine for an American truck driver who attempted to bring thousands of pounds of cheese across the border illegally.
On May 9, 2019, truck driver Haissam Azaar pled guilty and was issued a fine of $30,000 Canadian dollars (a little over $22,000 in U.S. dollars) for his failed attempt to smuggle cheese across the Landsdowne, Ontario border crossing, according to a May 27 press release from Canadian authorities.
According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), on January 10, 2018, 50 year old truck driver Haissam Azaar was referred for a secondary inspection as he made the border crossing. During this inspection, officers discovered eight skids of undeclared cheese weighing close to 8,800 pounds.
Azzar was arrested and charged with smuggling under the Customs Act, which requires that all goods entering Canada must be accurately reported to the CBSA.
The CBSA “reminds all travellers to truthfully declare all goods when entering Canada. Failure to report all goods, undervaluation and other Customs Act contraventions may lead to seizure action and/or criminal prosecution in a court of law.”
“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,” said Darren Frank, the CBSA St. Lawrence District Director.
Azzar has five years to pay the fine. He must pay at least $1000 per year.
Because of higher dairy prices in Canada, smuggling cheaper U.S. cheese across the border isn’t unheard of. In 2012, a large scale cheese smuggling operation catering mainly to pizza restaurants was stopped by the Niagara Regional Police Service.