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Cairo Customs Serves Up Cow Brains in 420 Pound Seizure of Smuggled Organs

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In The News

Airport security is tough nowadays whether it's in the U.S. or abroad. And attempts to smuggle certain stuff tends to increase the odds of getting busted--particularly if it involves roughly 500 pounds. Attempts to transport cow brains tops the list. Nevertheless, four groups of people have done it--in the same week. Really.
Most people aren't necessarily attracted to the concept of eating an animal's brains. The idea of eating cow brains ranks more along the lines of potential "Fear Factor" content than the concept of a great meal. Most places don't typically offer cow brains -- including airports.
There have been some weird things seized at airports like the customs confiscation of tiny smuggled monkeys. And it wasn't snakes on a plane but snakes on a train that sent officials and passengers into a travel tizzy over smuggled deadly cobras on board. But customs enforcement at Cairo International Airport made one of the more unusual busts while inspecting freezer containers -- seizing cow brains. Lots of them.
On the very big upside for customs officials, at least the massive volume of animal organs happened to be frozen at the time of discovery. Rotting meat ain't good. Neither is rotting organs.
Far more than one cow was involved in the 420 pounds worth of the 'good' stuff taken into custody at week's end --carted by three Sudanese air travelers.
The tasty treat was allegedly destined for Egyptian restaurants, the organ commonly boiled or deep-fried. It's not exactly the suggested 'cupcakes' suggestion featured on popular cooking-related sites like AllRecipes. It's an absent recipe on the cooking site. But there are a multitude of recipes in existence for the allegedly edible organ. Cow brains are a delicacy in Egypt and across the Middle East, served as an appetizer when available -- and often featured with a spicy, red sauce. That sauce is likely necessary.
It would seem that cow brain confiscation equals a rarity. And it may be normally, but tough economic times across the globe equal desperate measures, like throwing them on a plane. The brains have become attempted frequent flyers of late. The Egyptian confiscation wasn't the first time this year the animal's organ has served as subject of a bust. It's actually the fourth time -- in the same week.
Customs officers dub it a money-making scheme related to the economy. If money-making is what it's all about, it seems there's a flaw in the theory.
Not surprisingly, brains are cheap in Sudan. Perhaps surprisingly, they're not so cheap in Egypt. The organ garners roughly six times the going rate in Egypt and -- like virtually everything else in the world, smuggling efforts come down to supply and demand -- in name of the almighty buck or, say, Egyptian pound. What seems more questionable is the actual payoff. Some are willing to break their backs and invest time and energy for a small gain while others tackle the idea of thinking, and operating smarter -- and more effectively.
It's literally a lot of weight to be carrying around. The assumption is that those brains must be worthy of the physical haul. But, as it turns out, cow brains aren't worth their weight in gold. And they're not anywhere near worth the weight of other frequently smuggled stuff -- like drugs. Not even close.
It's an awful lot of trouble for a small chunk of cash: 420 lbs in cow brains carries a "street value" equivalent of about US $1500 hundred dollars. If the number seems like it's missing a zero or two, to make the transaction worthy, the idea seems accurate. Broken down, those brains garner just over three bucks per pound -- not exactly a king's ransom. A smuggling-related stint in prison probably isn't worth that "payoff".
It may pain cow brain lovers to learn that the disposal method doesn't simply involve a trashcan or two. Just like seized drugs those brains are slated to be burned, in an incinerator. Similarly, it may pain the non-lovers -- and another of the human five senses -- to learn those brains are slated to be burned, in an incinerator. Something says "disposed" marijuana ranks higher than burning animal organs.


Cairo International Airport
Sheraton Al Matar Qesm an Nuzhah
Cairo 02 22655000
Phone: (202) 22655000
Fax: (202) 22653214
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