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CBP Inspects Cut Flowers inside First Ghost Flight to San Juan

By on May 1, 2020

SAN JUAN — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agricultural Specialists inspected Wednesday the first “Ghost Flight” to arrive to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, full of cut flowers from Colombia. 

An Agriculture Specialist inspects flower boxes downloaded from a passenger aircraft in San Juan.

CBP is the border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of the nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry.

A “Ghost Flight” is a planned air route that commercial airlines continue to fly regardless of having few or no passengers, the agency said in a press release.    

“Although these items appear to be harmless, there could be hidden threats in compartments and containers of fresh items that could seriously threaten U.S. agriculture, our natural resources and our economy,” stated Leida Colón, assistant director of Field Operations-Trade for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Colombian carrier arrived to San Juan filled with a consignment of 1,733 boxes of cut flowers ahead of the Mother’s Day celebration Sunday May 10.   

Several other “ghost flights” are scheduled by commercial aircraft importing cargo into the island.   

Millions of pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, and other items enter via commercial shipments from other countries every year.

With the appropriate PPE, Ag Specialists search for pest in cut flowers.

“CBP agriculture specialists possess specialized skill sets they use to prevent the introduction of harmful exotic plant pests and foreign animal diseases, and potential ag/bio-terrorism into the United States,” CBP wrote.

“CBP’s San Juan Field Office continues to process cargo, international mail and express consignment packages with care and vigilance. We ask the trade community to take reasonable care during the import process,” the agency added. 

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