Agriculture Canine Team Stops Hidden Pork Products from Entering U.S.

Nogales, Arizona - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the port of Mariposa discovered pork products on Monday, hidden in a cereal box.

CBP officers referred a vehicle with Utah plates for an additional inspection when the female driver attempted to enter the United States. Prior to the search, the woman said she had nothing to declare when asked again by the CBP officer. When the CBP agriculture canine searched the vehicle, it alerted to a cereal box containing nearly three pounds of pork products wrapped in a towel. The pork products were seized and destroyed. The driver was fined for failure to declare the prohibited agriculture product and released.

Originally part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Beagle Brigade became part of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11. Not all CBP agriculture canines are beagles however other breeds may be used depending on where they are working. Along with their counterparts who work at international airports and mail facilities, CBP agriculture canines sniff out prohibited agricultural goods. On the Mexican and Canadian land border, they are also responsible for checking other modes of transport such as vehicle and bus.

When one of these specially trained canines detects prohibited agricultural items, it sits, as a passive response to alert its human partner – a CBP agriculture specialist. The specialist then inspects the item or vehicle to confirm the find. Travelers can be fined up to $1,000 on the spot if they did not initially declare the found prohibited items. The items are then confiscated and destroyed to eliminate the chance of spreading plant and animal pests or diseases.

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in agricultural and biological inspection. Their historic mission of preventing the introduction of harmful plant and animal pests into the U.S. provides CBP with the expertise to recognize and prevent the entry of organisms with a potential to devastate entire segments of our agriculture-related economy.