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US suspends imports of avocados from Mexico after threat to inspector

Security guarantees sought for avocado inspectors in Michoacán

Mexico is the largest avocado producer in the world. The U.S.-Mexico ports of entry in Pharr and Laredo, Texas, represent the top two border crossings for Mexican avocados to the U.S. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The United States has suspended avocado imports from Mexico due to a threat received by a U.S. inspector while working in the country.

The suspension of avocado inspection activities in the Mexican state of Michoacán came after one U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector who was carrying out inspection work received a threatening phone call last week. The import suspension began Saturday. 

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which carries out avocado inspections in Mexico, said an investigation is underway to assess the threat and determine the necessary measures to guarantee the physical integrity of all of its personnel working in Michoacán.

Michoacán is one of only two states in Mexico that has U.S. approval to export avocados to the U.S. The other state exporting avocados is Jalisco.

There are dozens of USDA employees stationed in Michoacán who are responsible for inspecting conditions on farms that grow avocados for export to the U.S.

In 2019, USDA inspectors in Michoacán were threatened at gunpoint by a group of people after canceling the certification of an avocado farm.


The 2019 incident prompted the USDA to write a letter to Mexican authorities that said, “For future situations that result in a security breach, or demonstrate an imminent physical threat to the well-being of APHIS personnel, we will immediately suspend program activities.”

Mexico is the largest avocado producer in the world, and 85% of supplies are imported by the U.S. The U.S.-Mexico ports of entry in Pharr and Laredo, Texas, represent the top two border crossings for Mexican avocados.

From Feb. 1 to Thursday, Pharr handled 1,322 truckloads and Laredo totaled 1,043 truckloads, with every truck carrying 40,000-pound shipments of avocados.

The suspension of imports comes after record avocado prices in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

The Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico, a nonprofit organization that represents avocado farmers and packers, released a statement urging a resolution since it “affects the industry and the more than 300,000 jobs that depend on it.”

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]