Wenqing Li, 38, was busted at Auckland International Airport for attempting to smuggle nearly 1,000 succulents and catcti from China into New Zealand. She had packed the plants into stockings and strapped them to her body. Yesterday, she was sentenced to one year of intensive supervision and 100 hours of community service. From New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries:
The cacti included 8 endangered and threatened species. The plants were worth over $10,000.
After being noticed by a detector dog, Ms Li tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her offending by disposing of items in the airport toilets. MPI officers prevented the evidence being destroyed and conducted a full search of the toilet area where a large amount of plant material was found, including 3 stockings filled with succulents and cacti in one of the rubbish bins inside the men's toilet.
In separate offending on 23 July 2019, Ms Li was found in possession of 142 unauthorised seeds hidden in commercially packaged iPad covers in her luggage, as well as over 200 plant pots and garden ornaments wrapped in mouldy wet paper. The plant pots were also found to contain a snail and pieces of tree fern stem.