CBP Agriculture Specialists Expose Pest Threats in Smuggled Produce
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at El Paso area ports of entry have made several significant seizures in recent days. CBP agriculture specialists have found live weevil larvae in wild field potatoes and several living fruit fly larvae in a sweet lime.
"The seizures are significant because these hitchhiking pests have the potential to spread to the domestic agricultural industry and cause substantial damage," said Ana Hinojosa, CBP director of Field Operation in El Paso. "CBP officers and agriculture specialists are on the front line stopping and containing potential infestations at the border."
The weevil larvae discovery was made at the Santa Teresa port of entry January 23 from a New Mexico resident returning from Mexico. CBP officers received a negative declaration for any agricultural products during the primary inspection. During a secondary exam, CBP officers discovered 1.5 kilos of wild field potatoes, commonly known as papitas del campo, mixed in a large box of dry pinto beans. The potatoes were examined and a live weevil larva was discovered. The man was assessed a $500 penalty as a repeat offender for undeclared and prohibited produce. He was previously assessed a $300 penalty for a first offense.
The fruit fly larva seizure was made a day earlier at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing in El Paso. CBP officers were performing an inspection of a passenger bus during which a female passenger declared one sweet lime, which was abandoned at the port of entry. The prohibited piece of fruit was examined during which three live fruit fly larvae were found in the fruit. The passenger was not assessed a penalty because the item was declared and was abandoned at the port.
"Declaring all items that you acquired while outside the U.S. to CBP is a way to avoid penalties and help CBP safeguard the nation's agricultural industry," said Hinojosa. "Additionally, people need to know that non-US citizens could risk losing their immigration documents, if they attempt to knowingly conceal and fraudulently enter prohibited agricultural items into our country."
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.