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Woman apprehended for allegedly smuggling eggs

16 March 2001

Woman apprehended for allegedly smuggling live exotic birds' eggs

A forty year old woman was apprehended at Auckland International Airport yesterday afternoon after allegedly trying to smuggle live exotic birds' eggs into the country.

The woman was stopped shortly after leaving a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok and failing to declare she was in possession of the 26 live eggs.

MAF's Enforcement Unit Manager, Jockey Jensen says the woman had the eggs strapped to her body under outer clothing in an effort to conceal them from border officials.

Mr Jensen says that as Thailand is a Foot and Mouth endemic country, she was profiled by the Ministry on her arrival.

He says staff from MAF, the Customs Service, Department of Conservation and an inter-departmental Wildlife Enforcement Group assisted in the processing of the woman and seizure of the eggs.

The Department of Conservation said the illegal importation of exotic species potentially risked New Zealand’s native plants, animals and birds. The apprehension showed the effort Government agencies are putting into the detection and interception of wildlife being illegally moved in and out of New Zealand, a Department spokesperson said.

A decision about whether to send the eggs back to Thailand or dispose of them will be made by the MAF Chief Veterinary Officer in consultation with the Department of Conservation. The decision is expected to be made within the next day.

MAF's Enforcement Unit is preparing a file for prosecution under the Biosecurity Act 1993. Further enquiries are being made to establish whether any other party may have been involved with the woman.

Anyone committing an offence of this nature is liable for up to five years' imprisonment, a fine up to $100,000, or both.

For more information contact Jockey Jensen, 09-357-1051 or 021-970-943 or Department of Conservation media liaison 025 846 810

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