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Cocaine seized from Dominican Republic; caterpillars from Jamaica
Published on July 29, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

NEW YORK, USA -- A traveller had more than a laptop in her computer bag when she arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and agriculture specialists at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport discovered a new type of caterpillar while inspecting a passenger’s luggage arriving from Jamaica.

On July 17, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted passenger Nikaury Lebron Florentino, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arriving from Santiago, Dominican Republic. During her examination, CBP officers noted inconsistencies in her answers and a nervous behaviour. Florentino was escorted to a private search room where her carry-on computer bag was probed, revealing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Florentino was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The total weight of cocaine seized was approximately 4.14 lbs.

“This seizure demonstrates the vigilance and dedication demonstrated daily by CBP officers at JFK, in keeping these prohibited and dangerous narcotics off the streets of our communities,” said Robert E. Perez, director, field operations in New York for CBP.

The approximate street value of the seized narcotic is $84,000.

She now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York. All defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Meanwhile, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed that U S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport discovered a new pest in the Baltimore area when they intercepted a Chrysauginae (Pyralidae), which is a type of caterpillar, while inspecting soursop leaves found in a passenger’s luggage.

Caterpillars can pose a significant agriculture threat because they feed on a wide variety of important agriculture crops. Infestation can lead to a decrease in productivity and quality of crops, which can result in significant economic loss. When bacteria and fungi enter the injury caused by the feeding caterpillars indirect effects such as rotting or early dropping of fruits can occur.

“CBP agriculture specialists are very good at detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests,” said Dianna Bowman, CBP area port director for the Port of Baltimore. “This discovery highlights the importance of the work they do, part of which is protecting the US agriculture industry.”

The caterpillar was discovered in leaves carried by a passenger arriving from Jamaica. CBP seized the infested soursop leaves and forwarded a specimen to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification. The remaining soursop leaves were then destroyed by incineration.
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