Anti-immigrant ideologues and terrorism alarmists are always
warning us that nuclear bombs and various diseases could easily make their way
across the United States' southern border, wreaking untold havoc and permanently
altering American civil liberties.
Now, there's a new threat for those folks to worry about: contaminated
AOL's Andrew Schneider reports
that federal agents on Friday busted two Hondurans for "an elaborate scam" involving cheese containing Staphylococcus aureus, a nasty bacterium
that can cause food poisoning and even toxic shock syndrome.
The two Hondurans, Francisca Josefina Lopez, 40, and Jorge
Alexis Ochoa Lopez,34, stand accused of "introducing adulterated food products into interstate commerce," a.k.a. importing and trying to sell funky cheese from Nicaragua.
The feds found four shipments of the cheese, three of which contained staph a, totaling at least 170,000 pounds and valued at $322,000. A fourth batch "violated standards applicable to phosphatase, indicating the cheese was
not pasteurized as declared on the relevant Customs import paperwork."
The defendants operated from a company known as the Lacteos
Factory in northwest Miami and reportedly developed an elaborate scam to
conceal the tainted cheese, according to the FDA.
On April 1, Customs and Border Protection inspected a cargo container at the
Port of Miami, which had been returned to the seaport from Lacteos with
documents stating the cheese was refused and was being returned to Central
But CBP inspectors discovered that while the top layer of cartons on each
pallet contained small bricks of cheese, as labeled, the bulk of the cargo in
the lower tiers of boxes consisted only of buckets of wastewater. As a result,
the majority of the cartons of cheese from the entry were missing.
Subsequently, a search warrant was executed at the Lacteos Factory, where
investigators found that the three other shipments of the cheese had been sold
to more than 30 customers, despite the food still being in "customs
hold," which meant the cheese could not be legally sold.
Apparently, one customer conducted independent testing of the cheese, found it
to be contaminated with the bacteria and returned the product. But that cheese
was then simply repackaged and sold to other customers, officials say.