Bad citrus bugs caught at port of entryby Hugh Holub on Jul. 26, 2011, under customs and border protection, politics
Press Release from US Customs and Border Protection July 26, 2011:
CBP Specialists Intercept Harmful Pest
Bug known to transmit Citrus Greening Disease
NOGALES, Ariz. — A potentially destructive agriculture threat was recently prevented from entering the country when U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists (CBPAS) detected and seized medicinal tea composed of dried lemongrass and fresh citrus leaves containing several dead and live citrus psyllids.
“This is the second interception of citrus psyllids at the port this year,” said Assistant Director of Field Operations-Trade James Tong. “It’s an outstanding demonstration of the meticulous and daily detailed effort necessary to defend our nation’s agriculture industry. Sometimes it is the smallest and least suspected that poses the greatest risk.”
CBPAS were screening travelers coming from Mexico on July 17, at the Mariposa Port in Nogales, when they selected a vehicle with Washington state license plates for a secondary agriculture inspection. The driver declared two live plants and some medicinal tea. Further scrutiny of the citrus leaves revealed nine dead and four live citrus psyllids confirmed as Diaphorina sp., a group of significant quarantine pests known for transmitting citrus greening disease, Huanglongbing (HLB). HLB is considered the most destructive citrus disease in the world.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the disease has seriously affected citrus production in India, Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.
CBP’s Office of Field Operations is tasked primarily with an anti-terrorism mission. They screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trades laws, and protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.