US temporarily halts avocado and mango inspections in Mexico due to security concerns

Two USDA inspectors were reportedly held against their will and beaten during a police protest in Paracho

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published June 19, 2024 7:45AM (EDT)


The United States has paused safety inspections for avocados and mangoes from Mexico after an incident reportedly threatened the safety of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff, according to several local news reports. Per Reuters, two staff members were held against their will and physically assaulted during a protest concerning police pay in the municipality of Paracho.

The USDA told Reuters that Mexican exports from the western state of Michoacán have not been blocked. Additionally, avocados and mangos already in transit wouldn’t be affected by the suspension of inspections, which would be paused "until further notice."

“The (safety inspection) programs will remain paused until the security situation is reviewed and protocols and safeguards are in place,” a spokesperson for the agency told the outlet.

On Friday, the USDA told the Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) of its decision to halt new exports out of Michoacán temporarily. APEAM President Julio Sahagun Calderon said in a Monday statement obtained by Bloomberg that the organization is working “intensely and in close collaboration” with government authorities to resume exports from Michoacán to the US. The events that led to the pause were “outside of the sector’s control,” he added.

An increase in demand for avocados has caused Mexican cartels to infiltrate the industry — so much so, that gang violence and extortion have exacerbated water supply issues and deforestation in Michoacán, Axios reported. This is the second time the USDA has suspended avocado imports from Mexico. The previous suspension was announced in February of 2022 and lasted a week.