New Year Sees Jump in CBP Agriculture Seizures at West Texas Ports
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas, and New Mexico made numerous seizures during the first seven days of 2010 including a sizeable increase in the number of agriculture and food items being confiscated. CBP officers made more than two dozen seizures during the period. Typically the number is between five and 15.
"This is consistent with previous years," said Ana Hinojosa, CBP field operations director in the El Paso region. "Every January we see a large number of people who spent the holidays in Mexico returning to the U.S. with prohibited items they acquired while away."
Area CBP officers made 25 seizures of prohibited food and agricultural items this week, resulting in $5,025 in fines being assessed. Prohibited items seized this week included pork, ham, chorizo, bologna, apples, oranges, avocados, guavas, sweet limes, tangerines, pomegranates, potatoes, sugar cane, and live plants and bulbs.
"Dozens of other travelers followed our pre-holiday advice and declared their items to CBP which allowed them to abandon prohibited goods instead of being assessed fines of up to $300 for first time offenses," said Hinojosa. "We always encourage travelers to declare all items they have acquired to CBP upon their arrival."
During the previous seven days, area CBP officers uncovered 102 immigration violations. Intended immigrants made up the largest group of violators. A total of 47 were identified through thorough document exams. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico.
CBP officers this week also identified 33 imposters while performing inspection at area ports. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. CBP officers also recorded 22 cases of people making false claims to U.S. citizenship, people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, and people attempting to enter without inspection.
In addition to the immigration violations, area CBP officers made eight drug seizures during the past week. CBP officers seized 487 pounds of marijuana. In one unusual case CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas crossing in El Paso Thursday discovered 4.9 pounds of marijuana hidden in the air filter of a motorcycle. CBP officers removed four wedge-shaped bundles from the Suzuki GSXR 600 during their secondary examination. The driver of the motorcycle, a 25-year-old man from Los Lunas, New Mexico, was turned over to the El Paso County Sheriff's office for prosecution.
CBP officers this week also identified 22 people who were being sought by various law enforcement agencies, made two seizures of prohibited medications, identified a pair of export violations, and seized one live bird. 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.