EL PASO, Texas – In the week leading to Valentine’s Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s agriculture specialists will be on the lookout for fresh flowers coming in through the El Paso ports of entry. CBP agriculture specialists will be conducting inspections on flowers and plant material looking for plant pests and diseases. Some of these floral bouquets and arrangements purchased in Mexico will use flowers and greenery for filler that are prohibited in the U.S.
At El Paso area ports of entry, the most commonly prohibited flowers and plant foliage are chrysanthemums, and choisya (an ornamental foliage filler). These items are not allowed to enter the U.S. from Mexico because they are known to harbor harmful pests and disease. Live plants, seeds and bulbs are also not allowed entry into the United States without special permits and phytosanitary certificates. Not declaring or intentionally smuggling prohibited items though the ports of entry are subject to civil penalties starting at $300.
“CBP agriculture specialists are working hard every day preventing potentially harmful plant pests and foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S.,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “Valentine’s Day week is one of the busiest periods of the year for CBP agriculture specialists.”
At international ports of entry CBP agriculture specialists are the front line in the fight against the introduction of harmful insects and diseases into the United States. El Paso area CBP agriculture specialists performing agriculture exams recorded a total of 43,632 quarantine material interceptions and 1,577 pest interceptions during fiscal year 2017.
Individuals who are considering purchasing floral arrangements in Mexico for transport to the U.S. should advise their florist so prohibited plant species will not be used in the arrangement. A list of common cut flowers allowed from Mexico is available at the El Paso ports of entry.