Pharr CBP Officers, Agriculture Specialists Intercept Tomato Shipment in Alleged Attempt to Circumvent Withhold Release Order

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PHARR, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) Officers, Agriculture Specialists, at Pharr International Bridge detained a shipment of tomatoes from a company cited in a recent Withhold Release Order (WRO) for forced labor which used import information from a company outside the scope of the Order.

“Our CBP agriculture specialists paid close attention to detail while conducting their examination of a tomato shipment and noticed something that didn’t add up,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Hidalgo, Pharr, Anzalduas Port of Entry. “Their discovery of an alleged attempt to circumvent the WRO underscores the commitment of CBP to ensure that merchandise, including agricultural products, produced by forced labor does not enter U.S. commerce nor can companies engaged in these practices benefit from that labor.”

The interception occurred on Sunday, October 24 at the Pharr International Bridge when a CBP Agriculture Specialist examining a shipment of fresh tomatoes discovered the submitted importation information indicated the shipment came from a company not affected by a recently enacted WRO for forced labor.  A closer review of the paperwork and comparison to the packaging indicated the tomatoes were from grower Horticola Tom, S.A. de C.V., one of the companies impacted by the WRO.

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A complete description of the recently enacted WRO may be found at this link.

CBP detained the shipment, and it was subsequently returned to Mexico.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.