'Beagle Brigade' sniffing out prohibited fruits, meats at port o - Tucson News Now

'Beagle Brigade' sniffing out prohibited fruits, meats at port of entry

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NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

If you're traveling northbound through the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, there's a good chance you'll meet "Honey."

She's a five-year-old golden retriever and yellow lab mix, and she's there to make sure no prohibited agricultural items enter the United States.  

There aren't many employees more eager to go to work every day than Honey. 

She's always on time.

She never gets written up.

And she listens about as well as anybody.

Honey is a working member of US Customs and Border Protection's "Beagle Brigade."

"The term is used loosely: Beagle Brigade...because not all our dogs are beagles," says Tracy Filippi of US Customs and Border Protection or CBP.

K9s like Honey are stationed at border crossings and international airports around the country.

And much like drug or bomb-sniffing dogs, their job is to find agricultural products that could pose a risk to the United States.

"We have a pest called Asian citrus psyllid that's found in Mexico," Filippi says. "And basically that pest is the most devastating citrus pest in the world."

That's why the Beagle Brigade is so important.

Because they're trained to seek out and identify four specific target odors.

"They graduate with mango, citrus, apple and pork because those are the four common things that are not allowed nationwide," says Honey's handler, CBP agent Zanna Jordan.

As you long as you declare your agricultural items at the port of entry, the worst thing that will happen is they'll be seized and destroyed.

"They're bringing back mangos that mom sent to bring to the family," says CBP supervisory agricultural specialist Annaliese Blecha.  "They don't think about things like the Mexican fruit fly being in it; they don't think about the contamination."

But if you intentionally try to get it past the inspection team chances are the Beagle Brigade's going to sniff you out.

And that could cost you up to $1,000 in fines right on the spot.

For more information about what items are prohibited at the US ports of entry, go to the Customs and Border Protection website and click on "Know before you go."

www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/kbyg/

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