EL PASO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at the El Paso, Texas port of entry made an unusual seizure recently. They discovered seven live plants concealed in packages wrapped like a burrito.
The seizure was made July 25 at the Paso Del Norte international crossing. A car with two California residents arrived and made a negative declaration to the CBP officer at the primary inspection booth. The vehicle was sent to the secondary inspection where again the driver and passenger gave negative declarations for any agricultural products. Upon inspection, a foil package was found inside the passenger's purse. The passenger told the CBP agriculture specialist that it was a burrito for lunch. The agriculture specialist opened the foil-wrapped package and discovered that it contained seven live plants for propagation.
CBP agriculture specialists assessed and collected a $300 penalty. The plant products were seized and destroyed. The plant was not identified. Some plants, cuttings, and seeds that are capable of propagation, unprocessed plant products and certain endangered species are allowed into the United States but require import permits and other documents; some are prohibited entirely.
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.