In early October customs officials on the Swiss border pulled over a 51-year-old motorist heading into Germany.
‘Anything to declare?’ they asked.
‘No,’ he replied.
When they asked him again he said, ‘Well there might be a bit of cheese from Switzerland.’ Which there was: 240 kilos of it.
Our intrepid cheese smuggler was fined €680 for evading import duties and was thoroughly cheesed off — but worse was to follow. The police discovered he was actually an inveterate cheese smuggler who had been caught in the act on several previous occasions and they are now bringing criminal proceedings against him.
‘We refuse to go soft on cheese,’ authorities said.
However, it isn’t just Germans who creep across closely-guarded borders at dead of night loaded down with illegal dairy products.
Haissam Azaar a 50 year old Canadian national was stopped while crossing from the USA into Ontario. Hidden in his van he had 3,990 kilos of American cheese. He was fined a whopping $30,000. Still, while the hapless Haissam might have though he was a big cheese in the industry, he was actually only a bit player in the international cheese racket.
Canadian customs recently announced that they had broken up a major cheese-smuggling ring taking American cheese across the Canadian border and selling it to restaurants and pizza joints. They were feta up with it.
“The network involved the purchasing of cases of cheese and other food items and transporting these cases into Canada, without declaring the items or paying duty,” police said.
The three men they arrested included a member of the Niagara Regional Police thus stemming a very deluge of illegal cheese. He was definitely up to no gouda.
In Finland, in the town of Lappeenranta, a major supermarket has announced that they will allow a maximum of 11 kilos of cheese per customer. The town is close to the Russian border and it transpires that savvy locals are getting rich by smuggling Oltermanni cheese which costs €5 per kilo in Finland into Russia where they can sell it for €20 per kilo. One man was recently arrested for having 50 kilos of cheese secreted in his campervan which was discovered by – believe it or not – Russian cheese-sniffing dogs.
In any case, back to our poor German caught smuggling his illegal cargo of Emmental or Gruyere across the border. When asked why the customs officials decided to stop his particular car one official said, ‘Something just didn’t smell right. Then, when he told us that Swiss cheese story, well, it was just full of holes.’