Lemon smuggler sent home

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

A foreign air passenger who deliberately smuggled 6 lemons in her trousers had her trip stopped at Auckland Airport.

Border officials refused entry to the woman after intercepting the lemons on Monday.

The Ministry for Primary Industries says the lemons were sniffed out by one of its biosecurity detector dogs when the passenger arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.

“She had failed to declare she was carrying any food on her official arrival card, but was found to have the lemons concealed at the top of her pants,” says Craig Hughes, MPI’s Manager North Passenger and Mail.

“Her excuse was that the lemons were good for her liver and other illnesses. That may be true, but it doesn’t justify endangering New Zealand’s horticulture industry by illegally bringing in fruit that could harbour pests or diseases.” 

As a result of the find, immigrations officials refused the woman entry permission to the country. She was forced to return to Hong Kong on the next available flight.

“This is an example of MPI and Immigration New Zealand working closely together to curtail biosecurity offences at the border,” says Mr Hughes.

“We want to send a strong message to smugglers who show contempt for our biosecurity rules.”

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