Rotorua bus driver fined $4500 for attempting to smuggle seeds into New Zealand

Rotorua bus driver fined $4500 for attempting to smuggle seeds into New Zealand
Photo credit: RNZ / Supplied


A Rotorua bus driver has been fined $4500 for attempting to smuggle seeds and undeclared cigarettes in to the country.

Woo Chan Shim, 58, was sentenced in the Manukau District Court on Thursday, after pleading guilty to charges.

Shim returned to Auckland from Korea on Monday 23 September 2019.

Upon entry to the country, he ticked "no" to the question on the declaration form regarding whether he was carrying goods on behalf of another person; "no" for "plants or plant products", and "no" to bringing in more than 50 cigarettes.

Shim's bag was inspected, revealing 100 hidden cigarettes.

The search was then upgraded and five different packets of vegetable seeds were found concealed in a zip pocket of a pair of trousers in his bag.

All of the products were seized.

"Mr Shim admitted to trying to hide the seeds in his trousers so they wouldn't be discovered by the quarantine officers. All returning passengers arriving in New Zealand must complete an arrival card and declare any risk goods they wish to bring into the country," said Simon Anderson, the Ministry for Primary Industries spokesperson.

Anderson said it is an important reminder that bringing unauthorised goods 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.

New Zealand's isolated position in the world, and its high economic dependence on its primary industries, makes it particularly vulnerable to the introduction of any invasive pests and diseases through the importation of "risk goods", he added.

Shim also received a fine from New Zealand Customs for undeclared cigarettes.