U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at the El Paso port of entry found a disposable diaper filled with live plants.
“People have smuggled items in diaper bags and baby car seats before but it is rare to find prohibited agricultural items concealed in a disposable diaper,” William Molaski, CBP El Paso Port Director, said in a news release. “Smugglers can be crafty but they should be aware that CBP officers and agriculture specialists are on the front line stopping and containing agricultural threats at the border.”
The seizure was made April 5 at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing in El Paso when a 1999 Dodge Caravan entered the port from Mexico. The driver, a female U.S. citizen from Hood River, Oregon, made a negative declaration for plants to the CBP officer at the primary inspection station. The vehicle was referred for a secondary inspection during which a CBP agriculture specialist searched the vehicle and found a bag under the seat with a disposable diaper containing 10 live plants. The officer also found about a half pound of citrus leaves and blossoms in another hidden bag. Both items are prohibited
A civil penalty of $300 was assessed and collected for attempting to smuggle the prohibited agricultural items. Eight of the plants were destroyed by incineration. Two agave plants were turned over to the USDA for disposition because of possible Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) concerns.
“Declaring all items that you acquired while outside the U.S. is a way to avoid penalties and help CBP safeguard the nation’s agricultural industry,” said Molaski. “The public should also be aware that non-US citizens could risk losing their immigration documents if they attempt to knowingly conceal and fraudulently enter prohibited agricultural items into our country.”