While doing a security sweep at the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers said anomalies with two ice chests led them to discover 58 pounds of alleged iguana meat that had not been declared.
The meat had been mixed with masa, a dough made of corn meal, and was apparently being turned into tamales.
Iguana is a delicacy in many Central American countries and is considered to be a curer of all ills as well as an aphrodesiac. Being that iguana is a delicacy, and on the endangered list, it's kind of hard to believe someone would make tamales out of them. But, I digress.
The CBP office said the iguana meat has an estimated value of $1,560, though iguana prices domestically vary widely. A quick search on the Internet showed prices ranging from $15 per pound to more than $50 per pound.
“This is a substantial amount of iguana meat, well beyond what would be considered as personal use. It lacked the necessary permits for lawful importation and further it was found hidden in masa,” said Joe Uribe, Acting CBP Port Director, Laredo. “This seizure illustrates the hard work of our CBP agriculture specialists and the diversity of laws that CBP enforces on behalf of other federal agencies.”
CBP agriculture specialists seized the meat for alleged violations of the Lacey Act and CITES and returned the woman to Mexico. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, ensures that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The case was turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents for further investigation.