Woman sentenced after smuggling 1,000 cacti strapped to her body from China
Smuggler straps 1,000 cacti and succulents to her body.
A woman has been sentenced to 12 months of intensive supervision and community work after trying to smuggle nearly 1,000 cacti and succulents into New Zealand.
Wenqing Li, 38, was caught in March 2019 attempting to smuggle 947 succulents and cacti from China by putting them inside stockings and taping them to her legs and torso.
The plants were worth over $10,000 and included eight endangered and threatened species.
Upon landing in Auckland international airport, Li panicked when she noticed a detector dog and headed straight to the men’s toilets to dispose her cacti.
She was caught and the plants were recovered by New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
Li, who lives in Auckland, was sentenced to intensive supervision for 12 months and 100 hours of community service.
Authorities claim she is a seller and trader of succulents and cacti on the online platform TradeMe.
In a separate offence in July 2019, Li attempted to smuggle 142 unauthorised seeds hidden in iPad covers, as well as more than 200 plant pots and garden ornaments.
“It’s important to remember that bringing unauthorised plants into the country by any method, whether smuggling through the border in person or receiving products by mail, puts New Zealand’s biosecurity at risk,” Simon Anderson said, MPI regional team manager for compliance investigations.
“New Zealand takes its role of protecting New Zealand from biosecurity threats very seriously.”