The Smuggler and the Clever Wife

By Hy Conrad

A Mexican border guard was talking to his wife over his cell phone when he accidentally pulled in a fragment of a static-filled conversation between a man and a woman. “I’ll be waiting in Tecate at noon for your regular Monday shipment,” said the man. “You don’t think the border guards are getting wise?”

“No,” the woman laughed. “We can keep this operation going forever.” And then, just as suddenly as they’d come, the voices disappeared.

SmugglerFor a full month, customs officials kept track of the traffic at the relatively quiet border crossing. Only three women made a regular habit of crossing into Mexico each Monday morning.

The first woman, impeccably dressed, drove a black Mercedes. The second, a girl barely out of her teens, always crossed on an old red bicycle.

The third drove a small van. “MexiCoast Spa” was on the side in fancy letters. Of the three, she was the only one declaring merchandise, a weekly supply of U.S.-made health foods and vitamins on which she paid a hefty tariff.

On the fifth Monday, they detained all three women. Methodically they searched, tearing every panel from the dark blue Mercedes, even checking inside the tire tubes. They did the same with the bicycle. Searching the van took the most time. Luckily, this week’s shipment of health food was smaller than usual. The officers took samples from every box and bottle.

After finally allowing the women into Mexico, the guard who had intercepted the conversation got back on his cell phone and reported every detail of the fiasco to his wife.

“From what you say, dear, I think I know who it is. When the woman I suspect crosses back into the U.S., ask passport control to detain her. If my theory is correct, it will be obvious what she is smuggling and how she’s doing it.” She explained her theory, leaving the guard to marvel at the brilliant woman he’d married.


The guard’s wife caught the one discrepancy no one else did. The Mercedes woman had used a different-colored car, not black this time, but dark blue. Could the woman be driving a different car on each trip across the border? It was worth checking out.
Late that same afternoon, when passport control stopped the woman from re-entering the U.S., they found her dressed much more casually. They also found her taking the bus. It was so simple that no one had seen it. The woman was smuggling cars—a whole fleet of stolen Mercedes.