Colorado Woman Fined $500 At Customs Checkpoint For Sliced Apple

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman in Arvada plans to fight in court against a $500 fine that she received for bringing a sliced apple through customs.

Crystal Tadlock was on her way back to Denver International Airport from France last week. When she stopped over in Minnesota to change planes, her sweet trip turned sour.

When she won a trip to the Grey Goose castle in Paris, she did not know that the free French vacation would come with a hefty price tag, all because of an apple in a Delta Air Lines baggie that was provided by the airline on her way back to the United States.

Not wanting to waste fresh food, Tadlock said she shoved the slices into her carry-on bag and forgot they were there. Minutes later came an unpleasant encounter with the customs agent who checked her bag and found the fruit.

“He aggressively ripped open the bottom,” Tadlock told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “He was like ‘Apple, boom. That’s going to be $500. Take a seat,; … I apologized for having the apple and offered to throw it away … and it just wasn’t an option.”

The frequent traveler says that what’s worse for her than the steep fine is the loss of her global pre-check status.

“I came along with my apple, and he wanted to fine me $500, and essentially my global entry was revoked,” Tadlock said. “My advice for Delta would be don’t give out produce.”

A Delta spokesperson responded to a request for comment with the following statement:

“We recommend passengers always comply fully with Customs and Border Protection rules and regulations. The apple in question was part of an in-flight meal meant to be consumed on the aircraft.”

An agent with Customs and Border Protection provided this comment:

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 non-commercial quantities. If the items are determined to be for commercial use, violations will be assessed at a much higher rate.

A special section of the U.S. Customs And Border Protection website lists more information about agricultural items on flights.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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