EL PASO, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists were hard at work during the recent Mother’s Day holiday period. Their efforts uncovered a number of violations and resulted in the interception of hundreds of prohibited items and dozens of pests.
“CBP took steps to remind travelers about the rules and regulations regarding the importation of floral arrangements during the Mother’s Day period,” said Hector Mancha, CBP Director of Field Operations in El Paso. “Nevertheless a threat remained and vigilant CBP agriculture specialists discovered violations and assessed penalties associated with these imports.”
CBP agriculture specialist issued $1,125 in penalties associated with the attempted import of prohibited plant materials including two travelers who were cited for importing commercial quantities of floral goods through passenger processing lanes. Commercial goods need to be processed through the cargo facilities.
CBP agriculture specialists performed almost 900 vehicle exams, more than 300 bus inspections, and checked the goods of almost 4,000 bus passengers and more than 62,000 pedestrians during the six-day effort. They inspected more than 7,600 flower stems and recorded 480 quarantine material interceptions (prohibited plants, meats, etc) and identified 34 pests.
CBP strongly encourages the public to consult the CBP website before they import floral arrangements so they know which flowers are permissible and which are prohibited or restricted. CBP suggests those who plan to import flowers and plants from Mexico to advise their florist that the arrangements are destined for U.S. delivery. Some flowers and plant materials commonly found in floral arrangements at southwest border ports of entry are prohibited. Those include gladiolas, chrysanthemums and choysia (a floral filler) due to pest risk.
Traditionally, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and the Easter holiday weekend are times when CBP agriculture specialists are very busy inspecting floral arrangements. At international ports of entry, land borders, and international mail facilities, CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of insects, pests and diseases into the United States.
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.