POSTED: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 11:53pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 12:35pm
EL PASO- Valentine's day around the corner and flowers are always a perfect gift. But before they end up in El Paso homes, authorities at the border are inspecting them to make sure they don't have any hidden dangers.
“During this time of the year, there's increases in cut flowers,” said Jose Hinojos with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
CBP agents at international bridges are keeping busy inspecting shipments of flowers coming into the United States.
“We're looking for pests, any type of beetles and any type of insects that might be with the flowers,” Hinojos said.
Agents are searching for pests and diseases that could be harmful, not just to people in El Paso, but to all Americans.
“Protecting American agriculture is very good because obviously these pests could also transcend into our food supply,” Hinojos said.
When CBP agents get a shipment, they select a small number of bundles to test.
“We take a part those cut flowers and we set them on the table,” Hinojos said. We look at each stem individually and if there's a reason to inspect additional bundles, we'll go ahead and search more.”
If the flowers pass the inspection, Hinojos said they are free to come into the U.S.
“If we find any pests or diseases, we refer them to the USDA,” said Hinojos.
If the USDA finds they're harmful, the CBP gets rid of the flowers.