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Los Angeles CBP Seizes Bonsai Plants, Some Concealed in Bags of Coffee

Release Date: 
January 19, 2010

Los Angeles - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists assigned to the Los Angeles International Airport discovered 65 live bonsai plants and seven bulbs, some concealed in coffee bags inside the luggage of a passenger who arrived from Vietnam.

Live bonsai plants and bulbs were found concealed in bags of coffee.

Live bonsai plants and bulbs were found concealed in bags of coffee.

On January 16, a passenger arriving from Vietnam to the Tom Bradley terminal was referred to Agriculture Secondary for inspection. CBP agriculture specialists gave the passenger the opportunity to verbally amend the declaration but the passenger insisted on not having fruits, vegetables or plants with the baggage.

During the X-ray scan, CBP officials discovered several anomalies in the passenger's suitcases and upon further examination all the prohibited commodities were detected. A $300.00 civil penalty was assessed for failure to declare the propagative materials.

The importation of nursery stock into the United States is restricted and in addition to being declared upon arrival, must be accompanied by a valid phytosanitary certificate issued by the country of origin. These plants often harbor significant agriculture insect pests and diseases.

During the beginning of each year, many passengers from Vietnam bring in bonsais and other live plants in preparation for the Tet celebration in February.

In fiscal year 2009, CBP agriculture specialists seized more than 1.5 million prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 166,727 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.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017