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  4. Valentine’s Day Flower Rush at LAX, a Busy Time for CBP Agriculture Specialists

Valentine’s Day Flower Rush at LAX, a Busy Time for CBP Agriculture Specialists

Release Date
Tue, 02/12/2019

Millions of Cut Flower Stems Arriving from South America, Mexico and the Netherlands

LOS ANGELES—U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are working against the clock to ensure all imported Valentine’s Day cut flowers arrive on time, but most importantly free of pests and diseases that could harm our agricultural industry and economy.

CBP Agriculture Specialist Inspects Imported Cut Flowers
LAX Agriculture Specialists inspect cut flowers
for pests and diseases that could harm America's 
agricultural industry and economy.

Los Angeles ranks second in the nation, after Miami, for the greatest number of imported cut flower stems and for intercepting the most pests. From January 1 to February 7, 2019 CBP agriculture specialists at LAX processed over 16 million of cut flower stems, in 11,752 shipments. A total of 191 pests were intercepted.

“CBP agriculture specialists are the frontline in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States, said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “They apply their scientific expertise in detecting, intercepting, identifying and ultimately preventing pests from contaminating America’s crops, livestock and the environment.”

More than 66 percent of the cut flower stems are imported from Colombia, 24 percent from Ecuador, 2.5 percent from Mexico and 1.7 percent from the Netherlands. The top three cut flower stems imported are Roses, Mixed Bouquets, and Rose Bouquets.

“During Valentine’s Day flower season, CBP agriculture specialists, work behind the scenes at an extremely fast-pace to avoid unnecessary delays, while ensuring the highest standards of compliance and security, said Donald Kusser, CBP Port Director of Los Angeles International Airport.

Insects most commonly found attempting to sneak into the U.S. on these cut flowers are species of Aphididae (Aphids), Frankliniella (Thrips), Noctuidae (moths), Agromyzidae (Miner Flies) and Tetranychus (mites).

For additional Valentine’s Day season statistics, see below:

Top 10 Ports of Entry, by volume (number of stems), that processed shipments of cut flower imports for the 2019 Valentine season (Jan 1 - Feb 7):

LocationQuantity in Stems
Miami International Airport852,494,053
Port Everglades FL24,803,948
Miami FL18,028518
LAX - Los Angeles16,232,482
JFK (NYC)13,919,911
Otay Mesa CA13,852,357
Laredo TX8,511,854
San Diego CA6,537,607
Chicago IL2,347,079


Last Modified: Feb 03, 2021