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‘Dangerous and reckless’: Prosecutors charge San Jose women with illegally importing fly-infested fruit

‘Dangerous and reckless’: Prosecutors charge San Jose women with illegally importing fly-infested fruit

SAN JOSE — Two women are facing felony charges of illegally importing fruit from Vietnam that was partially infested with the larvae of destructive fruit flies, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

The women, ages 42 and 36, face the charge of conspiracy to import and sell fruit in violation of federal and state agricultural laws. Prosecutors said in a news release Friday that in 2022, the women coordinated the importation of the tropical fruit langsat, which was mislabeled as dried fish, coffee and tea during the shipping process in order to avoid inspection.

Prosecutors said that one of the women was warned by officials to stop selling the fruit in May 2022, but she continued to advertise it on her social media pages. The langsat was later seized and was found to be infested with the larvae of an invasive species of fruit fly native to South Asia.

“This is serious and reckless behavior,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen in the news release. “If they spread, these flies can destroy crops. This County’s farms and everybody’s food prices are at stake.”

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Last week, The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced it planned two rounds of pest control spraying and baiting in parts of Santa Clara County after the oriental fruit fly was found in Cupertino, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale within the past month.

The oriental fruit fly, which is native to Asia but has spread to islands in the Pacific Ocean, can render fruits inedible if they’re able to burrow into them.

Neither the Department of Food and Agriculture nor the District Attorney’s Office tied the preventative spraying to the charges levied against the illegal importation of langsat. It was not immediately clear what specific species of fruit fly had been found in the shipments.