Officers assigned to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Area Port of Memphis seized 16 live succulent plants hidden inside teddy bears at an express consignment facility.
The bears had been shipped in two separate boxes from Mexico, and were seized because they were improperly manifested and undeclared. As a result, the concealed plants and bears were destroyed using steam sterilization.
“Shipping live plants isn’t illegal, but it is important that shippers follow the correct protocols if they want their plants to reach the intended recipient. It may take a little more time, but it will save a lot of money and headache in the long run,” said Michael Neipert, CBP Area Port Director of Memphis. “It probably took longer to hide these plants in teddy bears than it did to just complete the proper forms.”
When exporting live plants, the shipper must complete a phytosanitary certificate, which is an official declaration that the plant or plant material, such as seeds, is free from pests or diseases. This keeps the shipper from spreading or introducing diseases or invasive pests. For information on certificates, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit Unit at (301) 851-2046 or (877) 770-5990. Information can also be found on the USDA website.