US Suspends Mexican Avocado Imports on Eve of Super Bowl

By MARK STEVENSON, Related Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico has acknowledged that the U.S. authorities has suspended all imports of Mexican avocados after a U.S. plant security inspector in Mexico obtained a menace.

The shock suspension was confirmed late Saturday on the eve of the Tremendous Bowl, the largest gross sales alternative of the yr for Mexican avocado growers.

Avocado exports are the most recent sufferer of the drug cartel turf battles and extorsion of avocado growers within the western state of Michoacan, the one state in Mexico totally approved to export to the U.S. market.

The U.S. authorities suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “till additional discover” after a U.S. plant security inspector in Mexico obtained a threatening message, Mexico’s Agriculture Division mentioned in a press release.

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“U.S. well being authorities … made the choice after considered one of their officers, who was finishing up inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, obtained a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the division wrote.

As a result of america additionally grows avocados, U.S. inspectors work in Mexico to make sure exported avocados don’t carry illnesses that might harm U.S. crops.

It was solely in 1997 that the U.S. lifted a ban on Mexican avocados that had been in place since 1914 to stop a variety of weevils, scabs and pests from getting into U.S. orchards.

The inspectors work for the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Well being Inspection Companies.

It’s not the primary time that the violence in Michoacan — the place the Jalisco cartel is preventing turf wars in opposition to a group of native gangs referred to as the United Cartels — has threatened avocados, the state’s most profitable crop.

After a earlier incident in 2019, the USDA had warned concerning the attainable penalties of attacking or threatening U.S. inspectors.

In August 2019, a U.S. Division of Agriculture group of inspectors was “instantly threatened” in Ziracuaretiro, a city simply west of Uruapan. Whereas the company didn’t specify what occurred, native authorities say a gang robbed the truck the inspectors have been touring in at gunpoint.

The USDA wrote in a letter on the time that, “For future conditions that end in a safety breach, or display an imminent bodily menace to the well-being of APHIS personnel, we are going to instantly droop program actions.”

Many avocado growers in Michoacan say drug gangs threaten them or their members of the family with kidnapping or loss of life until they pay safety cash, generally amounting to 1000’s of {dollars} per acre.

On September 30, 2020, a Mexican worker of APHIS was killed close to the northern border metropolis of Tijuana.

Mexican prosecutors mentioned Edgar Flores Santos was killed by drug traffickers who might have mistaken him for a policeman and a suspect was arrested. The U.S. State Division mentioned investigations “concluded this unlucky incident was a case of Mr. Flores being within the mistaken place on the mistaken time.”

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