When an Apple fine is rotten to the core

Go on. What harm could one apple do?

There’s the law and then there’s the law.

Some of you may have followed the headline of Crystal Tadlock who was busted by United States Customs and Border Protection for the incorrigible crime of bringing in illegal agricultural produce. You could assume that since she was coming from Paris, it was secret stash of some French onions but nope, it was an apple given to her by Delta still wrapped in the plastic with the Delta logo on it.

From ABC News:

Tadlock said she was going through Customs when she said her bag was randomly searched by an agent who found the apple inside the plastic bag it was originally handed out in that included the Delta log.

According to Tadlock, the agent asked if her trip to France was expensive, and she replied yes.

“It’s about to get a whole lot more expensive after I charge you $500,” the agent then allegedly said to Tadlock, she told KDVR.

She said she was then fined $500 and lost her global entry status.

In a statement to ABC News, Delta said, “We encourage our customers to follow U.S. Customs and Border Protection protocols.”

Furthermore:

In a statement to ABC News, CBP said “Privacy policy prohibits CBP from discussing the details of any individuals specific inspection, however all agriculture items must be declared. Prohibited items that are not declared by a passenger are confiscated and disposed of by CBP. More importantly, civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to $1,000 per first-time offense for noncommercial quantities. If the items are determined to be for commercial use, violations will be assessed at a much higher rate.”

According to the CBP website, travelers must declare fruits, vegetables, plants and animal products.

At the time, Ms Tadlock said she would fight it in court.

Fast forward two months and the headline in SF Gate ” Delta passenger wins battle over a $500 apple” suggests she did indeed win in court. Except that the subline gives it away that it was her state Colorado Congressman,  Ed Perlmutter, who intervened with Customs and the Department of Agriculture to get them to revoke the fine and reinstate her global entry status. It’s nice to have friend in low places.

So does this this merit a “Feed them to the lions” judgement? If this was a pattern, then I’d say yes but this sounds like an individual being overzealous. The officer should have had better judgement.

Trajan