Los Angeles - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists assigned to Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport seized a pair of decorative Christmas reindeer figures. A passenger arriving from El Salvador was carrying the reindeer figurines in luggage.
Upon inspection, CBP agriculture specialists found that the reindeer were made of grass material which contained seeds that could be propagated. The blades of the grass also showed possible disease symptoms. Seeds for propagation that are not accompanied by an appropriate plant health certificate, which this passenger did not provide, are prohibited entry into the United States.
"CBP enforces hundreds of laws including all USDA regulations," said CBP Acting Director of Los Angeles Field Operations Carlos Martel. "Our agriculture specialists protect America's agriculture by using their scientific expertise to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and plant diseases."
Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in cooperation with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Plant Protection and Quarantine take an aggressive approach to prevent potential plant pest and disease threats to U.S. agriculture.
Samples of the seeds and diseased grass were forwarded to the local USDA Plant Inspection Station for identification. The prohibited agriculture items were seized, safeguarded and relinquished to USDA for destruction.
During fiscal year 2009, agriculture specialists seized more than 1.5 million prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 166,727 agricultural pests at ports of entry.
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.