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Python fillets slipped into luggage

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/11/2014
A traveller has escaped a fine despite arriving at Auckland Airport a package of fresh python fillets crawling with insects. © Getty Images A traveller has escaped a fine despite arriving at Auckland Airport a package of fresh python fillets crawling with insects.

A Chinese traveller thought she had an innocuous packet of tea in her luggage - but it turned out her mother had slipped in some fresh python fillets.

The woman declared her package when she arrived at Auckland Airport last week, saying she believed it was tea although she wasn't sure.

But Ministry of Primary Industries staff found the package contained python fillets crawling with insects.

"It became clear the contents were definitely not tea when our quarantine inspector opened the package and discovered fresh fillets labelled as python," MPI's Brett Hickman said.

He said the meat was a biosecurity risk which could have had diseases damaging to native reptiles.

But the woman has slithered her way out of a fine as she declared the unusual item, Mr Hickman said.

"She did the right thing by alerting us she was carrying food items.

"We don't see a lot of snake products like this, although occasionally we find snakes preserved in bottles of wine from places like Thailand and Vietnam."

The meat's been given to the Department of Conservation as it might fall under the Trade in Endangered Species Act.

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