NOGALES, ARIZ.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Mariposa here discovered a pest, confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 7, known as an Asian citrus psyllid or Diaphorina citri Kuwayama.
The Asian citrus psyllid is an aphid-like insect that feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus trees and other citrus-like plants - but the real danger is that it can carry a deadly, bacterial tree disease called Huanglongbing, also known as Citrus Greening Disease.
CBP agriculture specialists discovered the pest among items concealed in a bag of fresh citrus leaves, in a private vehicle attempting to enter the United States from Mexico. The driver of the vehicle initially claimed not to have any items of agricultural interest to CBP officers. When officers referred the vehicle for secondary inspection, a CBP agriculture canine alerted to live plants. The driver paid a civil penalty for failure to declare and was released without further incident.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in agricultural and biological inspection. Their historic mission of preventing the introduction of harmful plant pests into the United States provides CBP with the expertise to recognize and prevent the entry of organisms that could potentially devastate entire segments of our agriculture-related economy.
CBP's Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation's ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.