Box after box of ammunition used for shotguns and high-powered rifles was discovered by agents after what should have been a routine inspection turned up more than they were looking for.
Three cars were due to be shipped to Mongolia and while agents were matching vehicle codes with the shipping manifests, they noticed the munitions in full view inside the car.
That was enough for agents to take the container off the ship and give it a closer look. What they found next would lead them to seize everything inside.
"When they de-vanned the containers and started going through the vehicles, they found ammunition concealed in the air filters of the cars," said Frank Falcon, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent.
More than 2,000 rounds of small-game bullets and shotgun shells were stuffed in the air filters of a Lexus, a Land Cruiser and a Camry.
In all, agents say the owner tried to conceal more than 2,300 rounds of ammunition out and smuggle it of the county illegally. Most of the rounds were still in their boxes.
Hundreds of containers move through the port every day, making the inspection of every single one of them tough for border protection agents.
Agents wouldn't say exactly what it was about this particular container and its manifest that drew their attention, but they regularly use a mix of intuition, protocol and experience when performing inspections.
Failure to declare and attempt to smuggle ammunition is against the law. The person lost everything, including the cars and the ammunition, which were valued at more than $45,000.
After an investigation, agents determined the individual shipping the cars and ammunition was not part of a larger crime ring.