Regional
10:17 pm
Wed July 7, 2010

Border Patrol Stops Fruit Fly Infested Mango In El Paso

El Paso – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists working at the El Paso port of entry have made an important pest interception. They discovered 12 living fruit fly larvae in a mango that a California bound traveler had in his possession.

"The introduction of living fruit fly larvae to citrus growing regions could be devastating," said William Molaski, U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Port Director. "Stopping this type of pest at the border is another way CBP is protecting the nation."

The discovery was made July 3 at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing in El Paso. A resident of California arrived from Mexico and made a negative declaration to CBP officers for fruits, meats, vegetables, and plants. He was sent to the secondary inspection area where he again made a negative declaration. CBP agriculture specialists searched the vehicle and found 48 mangoes, approximately 200 red plums and three manzano peppers hidden in bags of dirty laundry. CBP agriculture specialists closely examined the seized items and found 12 living fruit fly larvae in one mango. The contraband fruit was destroyed by CBP. The driver was assessed a $300 fine for failing to declare the prohibited items to CBP.

"Education and declaration are the best ways border crossers can avoid these penalties," said Molaski. "Travelers should declare all items they acquire in Mexico. They can also obtain a list of prohibited agriculture items at any port of entry. Following these guidelines can help the traveler and also help prevent the introduction of disease and pests to the U.S."

The civil penalty for failing to declare agricultural items will cost first time offenders $300. The penalty for the second violation goes up to $500. The key is to declare all agricultural items and present them to CBP for inspection so that an agriculture specialist can determine if it is admissible or not. Properly declared prohibited items can be abandoned at a port of entry without incident.

CBP is seeking to prevent the introduction of harmful plant pests and foreign animal diseasesthat a traveler may unintentionally bring into the U.S. through agricultural products. Restricted items include meat, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil and products made from animal or plant materials. That single piece of fruit or plant could be harboring a harmful plant and animal pest or disease, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, that could cause very serious damage to America's homeland.