Reminds me of the time a friend and I shipped back some switchblade knives from France. We were 16 at the time and his mother made him declare “knife” on the shipping document. Of course, I was too smart for that so I described my package as “utensils”. Guess who got the letter from Customs saying that his package was intercepted and would be destroyed ?
At least about 10 years ago, the parcels and small packets from certain countries (about 10) were segregated at the post office. Other countries were sampled, but those from that list were ALL supposed to go to Customs. IIRC, they were mostly Middle-Eastern.
When my folks brought their car back from the Netherlands (via the QE2, a cruise ship) it was searched. Various bits didn’t go back together they way they had originally. And there was no more loose change in the cracks between the seat cushions.
My folks shipped me some kris from Indonesia. The package was detained in LA, and I got a call from the customs officer wanting to know what was inside. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “should I say knives? That doesn’t sound good…maybe ‘cultural artifacts’? That doesn’t sound good either…” I told her they were kris, thinking to obfuscate the issue, but apparently when the customs officer doesn’t know what something is, they just keep asking “and what is that?” So I eventually had to tell her they were knives. I got them anyway, as it turns out. No problem with importing 12" double-edged knives into the state.
When I was on an ebay buying frenzy a year or so back, I would say I have about a 1 in 4 chance that the parcel I was going to receive was “inspected by customs”. I live in Canada and this would be items coming in from the states.
One day I ordered (um, for a friend…yeah…) some hardcore porno DVDs. Box was “inspected by customs”. All items were accounted for upon receipt by me.
I often wonder if the customs officials have a computer that flags peoples names so that when the mail has parcels coming through they check them.
Some of those customs officials must have seen some weird shit.