LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, agriculture specialists, and agriculture canine teams at Laredo Port of Entry have been busy over the past month as they uncovered multiple agriculture law violations and issued more than $20,100 in penalties.
“Preventing the entry of prohibited agriculture products into the U.S. plays a crucial role in CBP’s agriculture mission as it limits the pathways for invasive, destructive plant and animal pests and diseases to ply their way in and wreak significant economic harm on our nation’s agricultural economy,” said Port Director Alberto Flores, Laredo Port of Entry.
The first interception occurred on August 14th when a white 2014 Toyota Tundra with a final destination of North Carolina arrived at the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge and was randomly selected for inspection by CBP agriculture specialists and the agriculture canine team. A negative declaration for fruits, meats, vegetables, plants or any prohibited ag product was received. The agriculture canine team alerted to the presence of a trained order originating from the purse. Upon the inspection of the purse, 17 live plants and three peppers for propagation were found undeclared within the purse. Agriculture specialists issued the driver a $300 penalty for attempting to import and failing to declare the prohibited agriculture products.
Later in the evening on Aug. 14, a red 2004 Dodge Ram made entry at the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge traveling to Fort Wayne, IN and was randomly selected for an agriculture inspection. A negative declaration for fruits, meats, vegetables, plants and any other prohibited product was received. Upon inspection of the luggage and vehicle, the agriculture canine team alerted to the presence of a trained odor originating from the luggage and vehicle. The alert led to the discovery of 11 kilograms of pork and four dragon fruits were discovered undeclared within luggage and vehicle. The penalty was then levied at $1,000 because the prohibited items were part of a commercial importation. The prohibited agriculture products were seized and processed for on-site destruction. A pest was found on dragon fruit and submitted to USDA for identification.
The third interception occurred the following day, on Aug. 15th, when a traveler arrived in a taxi with a final destination of Dallas, Texas. CBP officers referred the traveler to secondary where they received a negative declaration for fruits, vegetables, plants, meats, and other agricultural items. Upon initial inspection, undeclared peppers were found and the agriculture canine team was called in to assist. A further inspection then resulted in the interception of nanches and mangoes and additional fresh peppers. Because of the commercial nature of the interception, a $1,000 penalty was levied.
The same day a black Ford F-150 made entry at the Juarez Lincoln International Bridge en route to Austin, TX and was randomly selected for an agriculture inspection. A negative declaration for fruits, vegetables, plants and meats was received. Upon inspection, an agriculture canine team alerted to the presence of a trained odor. The alert led to the discovery of 21 kilograms of undeclared peppers that were concealed within a bag of dirty laundry. A further inspection of the subject’s belongings, resulted in the discovery of four plants and 0.5 oz of seeds for propagation, all undeclared. The driver was assessed a $300 civil penalty for failing to declare and attempt to conceal prohibited agricultural products.
The fifth incident occurred on Aug. 16 when a gray 2010 GMC headed to New Braunfels, TX was randomly selected for an agriculture inspection. A negative declaration was received, however, upon inspection, the agriculture canine team alerted to the presence of a trained odor originating from a cooler. Upon inspection of the cooler, one kilogram pork and one dragon fruit were discovered. The driver was issued a $300 penalty for failing to declare the prohibited agriculture products.
The sixth incident occurred on Aug. 17th when a red Chevy Silverado with a destination of Minnesota arrived at the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge. The vehicle was referred to secondary for an inspection by CBP officers where they received a negative declaration for agriculture products. While conducting the inspection, fresh peppers and pitayas were found within the driver’s luggage. CBP agriculture specialists were asked to assist and upon a further inspection found 1 kilogram of pork meat, five passion fruits, and three live plants within his baggage. Because of the commercial nature of the importation, the subject was issued a $1,000 penalty.
A seventh incident occurred on Aug. 18th when a white Chevrolet pickup made entry at the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge. At primary CBP officers obtained a negative declaration for agriculture products. As the officer conducted the primary inspection, he observed what appeared to be concealed live poultry hidden under the rear seat of the vehicle and was subsequently referred to secondary for an agriculture inspection. Upon inspection of the vehicle, 5 live poultry were discovered undeclared and concealed wrapped in stockings. The subject admitted that the poultry were to be sold in the U.S. A $1,000 civil penalty was levied for attempting to import prohibited agriculture items with commercial intent and for being a previous violator. The prohibited agricultural items were seized and transferred to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services. The subject vehicle was seized by CBP under 19 USC 1595.
For the month of August 2021, CBP agriculture specialists at Laredo Port of Entry intercepted over 4,350 prohibited agricultural items and levied 47 penalties totaling over $20,000. Attempting to bring in prohibited agricultural items could lead to traveler delays and may result in penalties ranging from $300 to $1,000.
CBP agriculture specialists work diligently to fulfill CBP’s agriculture mission by excluding harmful pests and diseases from becoming established in the US. For more information about CBP’s agriculture mission, click on the following link.