SAN DIEGO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the ports of entry along the California border with Mexico recently assessed 37 penalties for prohibited agricultural items totaling over $10,000.
From Friday, January 6, through Sunday, January 8, CBP officers and agriculture specialists intercepted 37 incidents of undeclared prohibited plant and animal products.
On Saturday, January 7, a male U.S. citizen and participant in the SENTRI program, arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry and declared dried beef, Chinese food and dried leaves to the CBP officers. During his inspection, the CBP agriculture specialist and his canine discovered undeclared oranges and a tangerine. The man was assessed a $500 civil penalty and was released. CBP seized and destroyed the fruits and revoked the man's SENTRI privileges.
On Sunday, January 8, a male U.S. citizen arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry. He declared a live half moon conure to the CBP officer, but did not have the required documentation to import the bird into the United States, so the bird was seized. During his inspection, CBP agriculture specialists also found two undeclared citrus fruits. The man paid a $300 civil penalty and was released. CBP seized and destroyed the fruits. Agriculture specialists turned over the conure to technicians with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services.
Officers and agriculture specialists also prevented the entry of several other prohibited items such as avocados, pork and pork products, and citrus fruit during that period.
"These items, whether in commercial cargo or with a person entering the country, could cause serious damage to America's crops and livestock," said San Diego Director of Field Operations Chris Maston. "We want travelers to be informed of what items are prohibited and to understand that if they fail to declare their items, they will face civil penalties."
Citrus fruits are hosts for exotic fruit flies, which are among the most destructive agricultural pests in the world. Citrus plants and plant parts also are hosts for the Asian citrus psyllid, which is known to transmit bacteria that cause citrus greening, or huanglongbing. Because there is no cure for trees infected with HLB, this disease is a significant threat to citrus production.
Birds are also regulated since they can carry viral and bacterial diseases of concern such as: exotic Newcastle disease (viral), avian influenza (viral), and psittacosis (bacterial). Additionally, psittacine birds are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
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.