U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at San Francisco International Airport discovered five agriculturally dangerous insects in a shipment of fresh basil from Mexico, authorities announced Thursday.
Federal officials said insect — a type of stinkbug – has only been discovered by inspectors once before in the U.S. However, officials said, it was the first time they have been found in a shipment of Mexican basil.
Had the insects gotten into California they would have triggered an agricultural quarantine, officials said.
The discovery was made during an inspection by CBP agriculture specialists at the Air Cargo Facility at San Francisco International Airport on New Year’s Eve day.
In order to prevent the possibility of a new species becoming established in California, the entire shipment was refused entry and ordered to be exported from the U.S.
“This interception exhibits the critical role of CBP in safeguarding our agricultural industry by stopping potentially devastating pests and diseases from entering our country”, said Ricardo Scheller, CBP’s area port director for San Francisco.