This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) intercepted a couple arriving from the Philippines who “claimed to be carrying pickled mango,” a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told The Points Guy.

According to a statement from the department, “inconsistencies” were identified in the travelers’ luggage when an agriculture specialist screened the bags. Upon opening the suitcase, 34 pieces of carved elephant ivory were discovered, along with carved warthog and hippopotamus tusks.

Inspectors from the US Fish and Wildlife service were alerted, and the entire collection — approximately 16 pounds of ivory — was seized.

(Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Patrol)
(Photo by US Customs & Border Protection)

For transporting items in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) agreement, the couple was fined $500.

“In this particular case,” the Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told TPG, “the couple did not initially declare the ivory. If an individual [purchased] ivory products at a time when it was legal, they can legally bring [them] into the US — if they have the proper documentation. This particular couple did not have documentation, therefore, the ivory was seized.”

(Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Patrol)
(Photo by US Customs & Border Protection)

If it strikes you as odd that a couple attempting to smuggle nearly 40 pieces of ivory across the US border was fined the same amount as a woman who left an apple from Delta in her bag, well, you’re not alone.

“Fines are based on a variety of factors,” the spokesperson explained. A separate spokesperson from the US Fish and Wildlife Service told The Points Guy that “a range of fines” can be issued for illegally importing (or attempting to import) items of this nature. It’s a “question for a judge to determine,” she added.

Though a $500 fine for trying to casually cross the border with undocumented and almost certainly illegal ivory may feel like an inadequate slap on the wrist, it’s worth noting that, as an additional penalty, the ivory — which was valued at $25,000 — was confiscated. The commandeered ivory pieces will be sent to the National Wildlife Property Repository, the “Seattle Times” reported, where they will either be displayed for educational purposes or destroyed.

Featured image courtesy of US Customs and Border Protection. 

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.