MPI intercepts plants in underpants

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A Polish gardener is facing prosecution for smuggling plants in his underpants into New Zealand.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff intercepted plant cuttings, a bulb, a tuber and seeds after an arriving air passenger was searched at Auckland airport on Saturday. 

MPI strip-searched the passenger after a biosecurity detector dog sniffed out the plants near the man’s groin. A Customs drug dog had also indicated the man was carrying something in his pants.

The man, a New Zealand resident, was wearing two pairs of underpants and the itchy concealment included ivy from a castle in Poland, says Craig Hughes, MPI’s Northern Border Clearance Manager, Passengers and Mail.

“He wanted the plants for his garden, saying he could not find them in New Zealand,” says Mr Hughes.

He says the case has been referred to MPI investigators and that the man is likely to be prosecuted under the Biosecurity Act.

“We have zero tolerance towards this type of behaviour, which could endanger New Zealand’s primary industries and native plant life by introducing foreign pests and diseases.”

NB.  Photo of intercepted plant material available on request.

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