Otay Mesa, Calif. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Field Operations Assistant Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski on Thursday presented a CBP Unit Citation Award to an agriculture work unit at the Otay Mesa cargo facility, the first unit citation approved by new CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin.
"I applaud the Otay Mesa cargo Agriculture Work Unit," said San Diego Director of Field Operations, Paul Morris. "The constant diligence and continued dedication to service by this agriculture team reflects highly on Customs and Border Protection."
On April 22, 14 agriculture specialists and a CBP technician were on-site to receive their award and a hand shake from Assistant Commissioner Winkowski for outstanding achievements performed during the Fiscal Year 2009.
The Agriculture Work Unit at the Otay Mesa cargo facility succeeded in intercepting a total of 260 actionable pests, six of which were determined by USDA National Identification Services to be unique first-time, nationwide pest interceptions that are now being housed in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
The 260 actionable pests intercepted by the Work Unit accounted for 51% of all actionable pests intercepted in the San Diego Field Office, and reflected a 67 % and 400% increase over FY08 and FY07 totals, respectively.
In addition to demonstrating exemplary vigilance in the interception of numerous agricultural pests, Morris said, the Work Unit exhibited a strengthened enforcement posture through the execution of increased intrusive inspections in FY09.
These increased enforcement activities directly led to 15 penalties with a combined total value of $25,400, the seizure of 1,384 kilograms of marijuana in December 2008, the seizure of 1,541 kilograms of marijuana in June of 2009 in the cargo facility.
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.