In the lead-up to Valentine’s Day U.S. customs agents are taking extra care to check flowers imported from Colombia for any hidden drugs or dangerous bugs, reports the Associated Press.
Colombia provides approximately 80% of the U.S.’s flowers and 65% of its roses, and in the weeks leading up to the day of love flower growers are in a hurry to meet the February 14 deadline.
Drug traffickers take advantage of the Valentine’s Day rush and try to hide drugs in flower shipments after they have left the farms in Colombia, according to the report.
Recently, Spanish police intercepted a flower shipment laden with 71 kilograms of cocaine.
U.S. customs officials are aware of the need to be extra vigilant during the Valentine’s period. “Right now is our peak season,” Rolando Suliveras, a U.S. customs agent told the Associated Press, “Our workload has increased ten-fold.”
Another customs agent explained that if drugs are found in flower shipments the police often set up a sting operation so they can arrest or identify people involved in drug trafficking.
The customs agents also inspect the shipments for exotic bugs that may be harmful to the North American ecosystem. Insects are often found, so the flowers are fumigated before they reach flower shops in the U.S.