Ukranian honey smugglers sent home

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Border officials sent two Ukrainian air passengers home on Friday after they tried to smuggle honey and bee pollen into New Zealand.

The couple were found with nearly 3kg of honey and 1kg of pollen after a luggage search by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff at Auckland airport.

The man and woman had arrived in New Zealand to work at a beekeeping operation in the lower North Island.

“Untreated honey products are a major biosecurity risk. They have the potential to carry diseases that could devastate New Zealand’s beekeeping industry,” says Craig Hughes, MPI’s Northern Border Clearance Manager, Passengers and Mail.

He says the couple had failed to declare they were carrying any food or other items of biosecurity risk when questioned by MPI staff.

“They had declared they were apiarists, which is a high-risk occupation for us.  That’s one of the reasons why our inspectors conducted the search.”

He says the couple stated the honey products were for personal use after they were found.

“The fact they were taking the products to a beekeeping area is just mind-boggling.”

As a result of the find, immigration officials refused the couple permission to enter the country. They were sent home on the first available flight.

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