A Fijian air passenger tagged as a smuggler has been fined more than $2,000 for attempting to take foreign plants and seeds into New Zealand.
During his court appearance, Deo Rajan Gounder, a New Zealand resident, said he knew what he was doing was illegal, but did it anyway because his cousin talked him into it.
Gounder pleaded guilty at the Manukau District Court on Wednesday to trying to bring the vegetation ‑ four plants and 11 seeds ‑ into Auckland Airport in July last year.
Biosecurity officers found the plant material at the bottom of a chilly bin containing food.
Two of the cuttings were Neem plants, or Indian lilac, a fast‑growing tree that can grow up to 20 metres in height. The other plants were unidentified.
New Zealand’s Primary Industries says in the past, they have detected crazy ants, taro mite, scale insects, and fungal diseases in plants from Fiji.
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