Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Bio-security officials in New Zealand said a woman caught attempting to smuggle more than 1,000 succulents and endangered cacti into the country was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
The Ministry for Primary Industries said Wenqing Li, 38, of Auckland, was accused of attempting to smuggle cacti and succulents into New Zealand from China on two separate occasions.
The ministry said Li returned to Auckland International Airport from a China trip in March 2019 with 947 plants concealed in stalkings and strapped to her body. She fled to a bathroom when she attracted the attention of a police dog and attempted to dispose of the items, which included eight endangered and threatened species and was worth an estimated $7,200.
Authorities recovered a "large amount" of plant materials from the bathroom.
The ministry said Li again returned from China in April 2019 with 142 seeds hidden inside iPad covers as well as more than 200 garden ornaments and plant pots, which were in turn carrying at least one snail and pieces of tree fern stem.
Officials said Li, who deals in cacti and other plants on website TradeMe, put "New Zealand's biosecurity at risk" by bringing the non-native and potentially invasive plants into the country.
Li was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and 12 months of "intense supervision."