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September 27, 2021

Canadians smuggling cheap cheese across the border, cops say

With respect to superior variety and selection, there really is just one reason Canadians flock across the border to shop: money.

750248_cheese_is_goodIndeed, there’s little question many goods today, especially with the loonie near par with the greenback, are much cheaper on the American side of the border.

But while Canadian bureaucrats and retailers wring their hands over lost business to the U.S., regulations that are keeping the price of Canadian goods high just might be fuelling the goofiest of black markets.

Like this, the so-called “mozzarella mafia”: a cross-border cheese smuggling operation Canadian cops are fighting to snuff out.

According to police in the Niagara region, the unthinkable is now true. The gap between cheese prices in Canada and the U.S. has grown so large cops are having to visit Canadian restaurants and pizzerias asking where they’ve bought their cheese.

*Bing: The weirdest things people smuggle

The suspicions grow from the rise of cheese smugglers, who are packing their trunks with “bricks” of cheese – the kind typically used atop the pizzas you buy and love.

In Canada, because of market restrictions levied by the Canadian Dairy Board, the same brick of cheese can cost as much as three times the price it does in the U.S.

“On a monthly basis we are approached by someone who wants to bring American cheese over the border and sell it to us,” one Niagara Falls pizzeria told the CBC.

Pizzeria owners say they’re offered cases of contraband cheese for about $150, where normally one might cost $240. That’s a near 40 per cent markdown, and when you extrapolate a $100,000-a-year cheese budget for pizzerias, it’s also nothing to dismiss.

In fact, cheese smuggling has become so lucrative – and so low risk: “It’s not like they’re going to put you in handcuffs and take you away (for not declaring cheese at the border),” one restaurateur said – that some crooked cops have been alleged to take part.

A few Niagara Regional Police Service officers might soon face charges for their part in cheese smuggling, which can make drivers as much as $2,000 a cross-border trip, according to the CBC.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...