Customs officers at MIA crack down on plants, foods that could bring diseases to South Florida

Agriculture detection beagles being used at airport

By Ian Margol - Reporter

MIAMI - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are working hard at Miami International Airport to keep the public safe from not only people who might want to cause harm, but also from disease and agriculture that could harm South Florida.

"We combined with our counterparts in CBP as the officers protecting America on all avenues from drugs, thugs and bugs, as I say," Customs and Border Protection Chief Michael Diblasi said. 

Agriculture detection beagles are being used by authorities at the airport to prevent plant and animal diseases or pests from taking over South Florida. 

"From different countries, they have diseases, they have foreign plant pests that come into the country and actually destroy our agriculture here, so we won’t be able to export products," Diblasi said. 

Each year around the U.S., millions of searches are done by the CBP.  

Deesle is one of the newer pups working with CBP, and his handler, Officer Aileen Soto said he’s picking up the job quickly.

"He's doing very well right now," she said. "He's getting a lot of what we call responses, which is allowed to come in, but there are still food vegetables and meat, and he's doing very good. I know his favorite right now for sure is mango."

All of the dogs are either rescues or they were donated to CBP.

The dogs work until they’re about 9 years old, and they retire with the officers they work with. 

As for all of those fruits and vegetables, everything is confiscated and most of it has to be destroyed to make sure the pests and diseases they could bring with them don't cause any harm. 

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