SANTA TERESA, N.M.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists working at the Santa Teresa port of entry made an unusual discovery recently. They seized four baggies of live "Jumiles" bugs and a plastic bag of roasted grasshoppers.
"Every traveler is asked by a CBP officer to declare all items they have acquired abroad," said Fred Hutterer, acting Santa Teresa Port Director. "In this case the traveler failed to declare the live insects which were then discovered by CBP agriculture specialists during an exam of the vehicle."
The seizure was made in late December when a pick up truck entered the port from Mexico. The vehicle was selected for a secondary examination during which a CBP agriculture specialist located a cardboard box which contained five bags of insects. The driver told CBP that he forgot to declare the items and they were a food item. CBP assessed a $175 penalty for failing to declare the items and seized the insects.
The bugs were then sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) identifier to confirm the species. The positive confirmation was returned this week which identified the live bugs as Heteroptera (Pentaomidae), a reportable variety of stink bug. A reportable pest is one that must be reported to USDA when intercepted at a port of entry because it belongs to a group whose members feed on plants.
"Entry of live insects is closely regulated by USDA-APHIS," said Hutterer. "CBP agriculture specialists routinely locate and stop pests while inspecting personal belongings, food items and packaging materials. It is an important part of the CBP mission."
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.
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.