Security officials at borders and airports see some strange things. How strange? Let us count the ways.
A cold-blooded crime
A California man returned from Australia with 11 skinks, 2 monitor lizards, and 2 geckos—all of them strapped to his chest. By our count, that's 15 more lizards than you're legally allowed to attach to your torso and bring into the country. Officials nabbed him at Los Angeles International Airport with the illicit reptiles, which were worth more than $8,500 to exotic-animal collectors.
Don't point that at me!
After passing through security gates at the Baltimore-Washington airport, a man took off running to the nearest restroom—barefoot, not even taking the time to put his shoes back on after walking through the X-ray machines. When security officials caught up with him, they discovered that he had hidden a can of Mace pepper spray in his body cavity. No word yet on what he was trying to protect himself from—or how he intended to take aim.
Taking it from the streets
After a visit to Boston, a tourist flying out of Logan Airport was stopped by TSA agents who discovered a massive, 15-pound piece of cobblestone in the passenger's carry-on luggage. The passenger explained that he'd picked up the loose chunk near the Union Oyster House and wanted to bring it home because it looked so historic. A TSA agent on the scene replied, "For crying out loud, if every visitor did that, we'd have no more history!"
Please don't flirt with the septuagenarians
A 71-year-old woman was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon after she attempted to get through airport security in Tampa with a small leather club known as a blackjack. When asked why she had the item, the confident passenger replied, "To smack men's hands when they get fresh."
Smells like sausage, looks like…
A 21-year-old woman received a $300 fine after she was caught smuggling 5.5 pounds of chorizo from Mexico into the U.S. She had safely stowed the brown pork sausage in baby diapers for the trip. Take this tale into consideration the next time you're thinking of buying black-market chorizo: You really don't know where it's been.
Is that a monkey in your pants, or…
Actually, it was two live pygmy monkeys, smuggled into LAX in the pants of a California man. He also carried what amounted to an entire biodiversity exhibit, including four exotic birds and 50 rare orchids he had taken from Indonesia. How was he caught? During an inspection in L.A., a bird hopped out of his bag and flew around the terminal. The man, who claimed to be a concerned environmentalist hoping to deliver his finds to a wildlife sanctuary in Costa Rica, was eventually sentenced to 57 days in jail and fined $15,000. The monkeys were released from the man's pants and sent to more expansive quarters at the Los Angeles Zoo.
It's the dairy, stupid
Something must have smelled fishy—or rather, cheesy. And given the size of the stash, it's no surprise. A man towing a U-Haul across the U.S. border from Mexico was stopped at a traffic checkpoint in Falfurrias, Tex., where agents seized 3,664 pounds of Mexican white cheese (a weight heavier than a Ford Mustang) valued at about $8,000. It's a little excessive, but, hey, people overpack for trips all the time.
An inadvisable response to the "no liquids" rule
Strange incidents aren't limited strictly to U.S. airports, of course. At a security checkpoint in Nürnberg, Germany, agents told a 64-year-old man carrying a liter of vodka that they wouldn't allow the booze in his carry-on. Instead of pouring it out or paying to check the bottle in his luggage, the man promptly dispensed of his problem by chugging it all down. Soon enough, he could neither stand nor function and had to be treated for alcohol poisoning. Which explains the tiny bottles handed out by flight attendants.