Lemon trouser smuggler sent packing from New Zealand

A woman was sent home after attempting to smuggle lemons into New Zealand, which has strict biosecurity laws to protect domestic produce.
A woman was sent home after attempting to smuggle lemons into New Zealand, which has strict biosecurity laws to protect domestic produce. PHOTO: ST FILE

WELLINGTON (AFP) - A woman who hid six lemons in her trousers in an effort to smuggle them into New Zealand has been sent packing back to Hong Kong, after falling foul of strict biosecurity laws.

Sniffer dogs checking incoming passengers at Auckland airport on Monday (March 24) found the citrus contraband, which the traveller claimed she needed as part of a home-made liver remedy.

But customs agents were unimpressed, saying the fruit was forbidden by laws designed to protect domestic produce, and put the woman on the next available flight home.

"Her excuse was that the lemons were good for her liver and other illnesses," said Craig Hughes, a spokesman for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

"That may be true, but it doesn't justify endangering New Zealand's horticulture industry by illegally bringing in fruit that could harbour pests or diseases."

It is not the first time New Zealand's crack biosecurity teams have foiled a trouser-based attempt to bring illicit flora and fauna into the country.

In 2013, a Vietnamese man's bid to smuggle fish through Auckland airport floundered when officials noticed that water was dripping from the pockets of his cargo pants.