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PROBE: Nov. 21, 2001

November 21, 2001

QUESTION: I was taking some Christmas gifts across the border. The Mexican customs people said I had not declared them. They said it was serious because the stuff came from China. They took my car, a 1999 Nissan. I still owe $19,000 on it.

I just had a few cheap little things I bought at the swap meet. I paid a total of $48 for them but the Mexican customs valued them at $120. I can't afford to lose my car.

I am a widow with three children. I am a naturalized citizen. What can I do? — Desperate, Imperial

Either there's something we don't know about this incident or you got ripped off for your car. Normally, when you try to take too much merchandise into Mexico, they send you to a bank to pay an import duty or send you back to the U.S.

After Thanksgiving we'll find out what the rules are for taking merchandise into Mexico.

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In the meantime, we talked to Carole Starr at Rep. Duncan Hunter's office. Hunter has no clout in Mexico. The U.S. State Department handles matters between U.S. citizens and Mexico.

That doesn't mean Starr will drag Colin Powell into the matter. What she promised to do was write a letter to the U.S. consulate in Tijuana. The consulate works under the State Department.

Hunter's office may have some clout with the consulate in Tijuana.

Starr said she needs a letter from you asking for the congressman's help. In the letter give her details: when and where did this take place, your name, address and phone number.

Good luck.

ROB AND MARY'S FRIEND — I knew Rob and Mary Lowther well. We had a camp in Mexico about 35 miles south of Mexicali. The Lowthers were our neighbors. They were nice people. I didn't know he had passed away. You can give my phone number to his daughter. — Rob's Friend, El Centro

We didn't know Mr. Lowther. We think it's our loss. He sounds like a nice man.

A NUT BREAD — My friends call me Ginger. Dough Boy is nothing but a nutty loaf, his story is as old as the stale bread on La Brucherie Road. Why would he want credit for throwing bread on a road or put himself at risk for a charge of littering?

His letter to PROBE has a hole as big as the empty middle of a doughnut. Here's the real story. I got the idea for spreading bread from a story my mother read to me.

A little girl spread crumbs on the road to leave a trail when she was kidnapped. Sometimes I get lost but I don't see well enough to follow a trail of bread crumbs. I throw loaves of bread on the road because loaves are big enough for my weak eyes to see. — Gingerbread Woman, Cyber Space

Ginger, do you mind if we call you a fruitcake? And no, PROBE readers, we are not making up these letters. We got them from our e-mail.

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