CBP Agriculture Specialists at Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry Have Fruitful Holiday Season
HIDALGO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists at the Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry made great interceptions of prohibited fruits, vegetables, plants and animal products during a three-week span from mid-December 2012 to the first week in January 2013.
Besides the normal day-to-day interceptions, agriculture specialists launch special operations throughout the year like "Operation Christmas Punch," conducted in conjunction with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors during the Christmas and New Year's holidays. During this operation, inspections of vehicles and pedestrians resulted in the interception of more than 2,000 prohibited plant and animal products and multiple invasive pests also were detected. The intercepted pests were forwarded to entomologists at the USDA Plant Inspection Station at Los Indios, Texas for further identification.
Among the intercepted pests were larvae of the Anastrepha genus found in a tangerine. This discovery is notable as one particular species associated with the Anastrepha genus is Anastrepha ludens (Loew), also known as the Mexican fruit fly. The Mexican fruit fly, if allowed to establish itself, is extremely harmful to the nation's citrus industry and in particular, the Rio Grande Valley's citrus industry, which is a vital sector of the local economy. The USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) in January 2012 had announced the eradication of Anastrepha ludens (Loew) from the last county in Texas in which it had been present.
CBP agriculture specialists safeguard American agriculture by detecting and preventing entry of plant pests into the country and exotic foreign animal diseases that could harm agricultural resources. They do this with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items, whether in commercial cargo, vehicles, passengers' baggage or carried by international airline passengers or pedestrians crossing the border, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock, and the environment.
"Our CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the U.S.," said Efrain Solis Jr., Port Director/ Hidalgo/Pharr/ Anzalduas. "These special operations at our port exemplify the great effort by our agriculture specialists to help protect America's agriculture industry."
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.