LOS ANGELES, June 8, 2009 – An agreement has been announced with Bombino Express Worldwide to stop illegally importing mangoes and yams. The California Department of Food and Agriculture and Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. worked together complete the agreement with the company.
“The inspectors who prevented these shipments from passing into California deserve the appreciation of farmers throughout California,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “Invasive pests are a primary threat to our crops, and keeping them out of California is vital to the security of our food supply and the stability of our agricultural economy.”
“Bombino Express Worldwide illegally imported mangoes and yams, without treating them for dangerous pests such as the Oriental Fruit Fly,” Attorney General Brown said. “It’s critical that imported produce be properly inspected to avoid devastating and costly pest infestations.”
In July 2008, Bombino Express Worldwide imported 34 packages of Indian mangoes and yams that were labeled “ladies’ apparel” through Los Angeles International Airport. Airport dogs discovered the packages and prevented the produce from entering the food supply. Illegal importation of produce places the state’s $37 billion agriculture industry at grave risk of exposure to invasive species.
State and federal laws prohibit the importation of untreated mangoes from India because they can be infested with crop-damaging pests such as the Oriental fruit fly, which reproduces rapidly due to lack of natural biological constraints.
Brown’s office filed a lawsuit against Bombino Express Worldwide and its CEO, Mohmed Yasin Latiwala of New Jersey. Brown charged the company with violating the state’s Food and Agriculture Code and engaging in unfair business practices.
The settlement prevents Bombino Express Worldwide from importing produce that has not been properly inspected for foreign pests. The company will also pay $40,000 in civil penalties. If the company violates the agreement in the future, the company will be forced to pay $1.6 million.
CDFA estimates that introduction of the Oriental fruit fly in California could cost the state many millions of dollars in crop losses, eradication efforts and quarantine requirements.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814