Careful What You Carry: Colorado Woman Gets $500 Fine And Has Global Entry Status Revoked For Not Declaring Apple At Customs

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An apple a day keeps Global Entry away… It’s no secret that U.S. entry regulations are quite stringent especially when it comes to customs and agriculture restrictions and just recently a CO based passenger had to experience this the hard way.

The passenger arrived at a U.S. point of entry from Paris on Delta Air Lines and the airline handed out fruits during the flight which the lady then decided to take off the plane, a decision that cost her $500.

In addition to the fine, the woman who is also a member of the Global Entry program might now lose her clearance to participate in the program following her customs violation.

You can read more about it from the local Colorado news station Fox 31 (access here).

An Arvada woman said she’s facing a $500 fine from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after she saved a free apple she received from an airline on her way home from Paris.

Crystal Tadlock said towards the end of her flight from Paris, flight attendants passed out apples in plastic bags. She wasn’t hungry at the time so she threw the snack in her bag and planned to eat it during the second leg of her trip back to Denver.

Tadlock said when she went through Customs, her bag was randomly searched. She said the Customs agent pulled out the apple in the plastic bag with Delta’s logo on it. Tadlock explained she’s just received the snack from the airline and asked if she could throw it out or eat it. She said the agent said no, and handed her a $500 fine for the apple instead.

“He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, ‘yeah.’ I didn’t really get why he was asking that question, and then he said ‘It’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500,'” said Tadlock.

Tadlock said she’s frustrated that an innocent mistake could amount to a $500 and the loss of her Global Entry Status. Tadlock said Delta shouldn’t have passed out apples to customers or at least reminded passengers not to take the fruit off the plane. She also said she’s frustrated that Customs would ticket her when the agent clearly saw the snack came from an airline. …

The excuses she brings up don’t have any merit in my opinion. She is a Global Entry participant and obviously travels internationally on a frequent basis. Global Entry applicants receive an introduction during their interview and are informed in all materials related to the program that it’s a system based on ‘trust’ hence the description Trusted Traveler Program. Members have to self police themselves and act in a fashion according to regulations and rules of the program.

Customs and Border Protection has repeatedly stated that Global Entry and Nexus members are held to much higher standards than the regular traveler and that a violation of any kind can lead to having the membership terminated.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act where DHS/CBP made a list of revoked Global Entry memberships available (see here) and it’s a good insight to what people think they can get away with.

As far as this particular case is concerned I get the impression there was some attitude on the part of the passenger involved. I might be wrong but the statements in the article drive me to that conclusion. There is no remorse and lots of shifting the blame to Delta and the customs agent while the passenger herself first took the fruit off the plane, then didn’t declare it on the screen to create the form and after that tried to take it through the customs checkpoint. So much for ‘self policing’. Depending on how the conversation went I can very well imagine the CBP agent throwing the book at her.

Conclusion

These regulations are valid for everybody coming into a country (not only the U.S. but really ANY country) no matter if the individual is a citizen or foreign visitor. Privileges pertaining to citizenship or Trusted Travel Programs don’t include violations of customs regulations or a free pass if one gets caught.

While she can fight this matter in court and with the Global Entry CBP Ombudsman I doubt anything will come of it as the violation is crystal clear and the fine wasn’t even the maximum as it could have been as much as US$1000.

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