El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at the El Paso port of entry have made several significant pest interceptions in recent days. CBP agriculture specialists have found live citrus black flies and almost two dozen living fruit fly larvae in sweet limes.
"These cases are important because these pests have the potential to spread to the domestic agricultural industry and cause untold damage," said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. "CBP officers and agriculture specialists closely examine all arriving agricultural items to root out items that are suspect."
The fruit fly larva seizure was made at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing March 8. CBP officers were performing an inspection of a San Jose (Calif.) bound vehicle during which the travelers declared a bag of assorted fruit to include sweet limes, manzano peppers, avocados, mangoes and passion fruit. All the items were prohibited for entry and were abandoned without incident.
CBP agricultural specialists initiated an exam and found that many of the sweet limes were infested with living fruit fly larvae. A total of 19 live larvae were removed from the fruit. Fruit flies are a concern because they can destroy fruit before it is harvested, greatly reducing overall yields.
The citrus black fly discovery was made at the Ysleta international crossing February 26. A traveler headed for the Denver area declared a bag of herbs and teas to CBP officers. CBP agricultural specialists examined the bag which did contain citrus leaves. The agriculture specialists noted evidence of citrus black fly. Their concerns were confirmed by USDA entomologists. Citrus black flies are a concern because they can damage citrus producing trees and reduce harvest yields. The traveler did not face a $300 penalty because the items were properly declared at the primary inspection.
"The travelers in both these cases should be commended for properly declaring the items. This is the best way to avoid financial penalties and help CBP safeguard the nation's agricultural industry," said Molaski. "Travelers also need to know that non-US citizens could risk losing their immigration documents and DCL/SENTRI users their trusted traveler status if they attempt to knowingly conceal and fraudulently enter prohibited agricultural items."
While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.