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February 22, 11

NEWS / El Paso-Area Ports Stop Multiple Prohibited Agriculture Items This Week

El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas, and New Mexico identified more than 120 violations while conducting inspections during the past seven days. CBP officers intercepted numerous drug loads, identified immigration violations, apprehended fugitives, and seized prohibited agricultural items.

During the past week area CBP officers stopped 11 people who were attempting to evade the CBP inspection process and smuggle contraband agricultural items into the U.S. from Mexico. CBP officers intercepted hidden and undeclared mangoes, avocados, potatoes, oranges, tangerines, mameys, raw chicken, pork and pork rinds with meat. Violators were assessed $2,200 in civil penalties.

“Travelers can avoid penalties by declaring all agricultural items they are importing. If the item they declare is prohibited it can be abandoned at the port without consequence,” said Ana Hinojosa, CBP director of field operations in El Paso. “Certain agricultural items are prohibited because they can introduce disease and pests to the U.S. agricultural industry.”

CBP officers working at area ports of entry identified 76 immigration related violations this week. The group included 28 intended immigrants. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card, or laser visa, to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico. CBP officers also took custody 18 people making false claims to U.S. citizenship as a ruse to gain entry.

A total of 11 imposters were stopped. Imposters with previous criminal histories are generally booked into the El Paso County jail to face federal prosecution. Imposters are also removed from the United States for a minimum five year period and face federal felony charges if they attempt to illegally reenter the country again. CBP officers also stopped 19 people who were using counterfeit or altered documents, had illegally entered the country previously without proper inspection, or overstayed their entry visa.

Thorough exams and name queries also resulted in the identification of 15 people who were being sought by law enforcement on a wide variety of charges. Fugitives were wanted for drug smuggling charges, tax issues, armed and dangerous lookouts, probation violations and other matters.

“CBP officers are stopping these dangerous people and things in their tracks,” said Hinojosa. “This is all part of our mission of protecting the homeland, the United States of America.”

CBP officers working at El Paso area ports made 13 drug seizures during the week seizing approximately 703 pounds of marijuana and 25 pounds of cocaine. While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.


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