‘Nothing like food’: Hongkonger jailed for smuggling meth into New Zealand in cans of pork

X-ray scan revealed her attempt to bring recreational drug into island nation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 10:56pm

A Hong Kong woman who smuggled HK$5.53 million of methamphetamine into New Zealand in cans of pork has been sentenced to nine years in jail.

Ip Sun-man learned her fate at the High Court at Auckland on Monday as she was sentenced to nine years and three months in prison for importing the Class A controlled drug. Justice Simon Moore QC told Ip she would have to serve at least four years and seven months before she would be eligible for parole.

A package of food items mailed from Hong Kong and addressed to Ip’s Auckland address was X-rayed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries in February – only two weeks after she arrived in New Zealand, according to New Zealand Customs.

Hong Kong pork vendors knuckle down to change testing, reporting procedures following tainted pigs scandal

The contents of three cans labelled “stewed pork ribs” looked “nothing like food” and were in fact filled with 1kg of methamphetamine worth NZ$1 million (HK$5.53 million), officials said.

Ip was raised in a middle-class Hong Kong family and described her life as “smooth” with no criminal convictions in Hong Kong or New Zealand, according to Moore’s decision.

“Unsurprisingly, your family is shocked, deeply worried and no doubt puzzled by the conduct which has led you down this path,” he wrote.

“It seems it may well have had something to do with you being naive and too trusting of your manipulative boyfriend,” he added.

Moore said that although prison life would be difficult for Ip given her limited English-language skills and separation from friends and family, it was important to denounce her conduct as the drug caused “devastation in New Zealand communities”.

Ip is to be deported at the end of her prison sentence.

New Zealand customs official Maurice O’Brien said it was not uncommon for offenders to enter the country solely to “catch” and redeliver drugs.

“Customs is well aware of the tricks criminals use and has systems in place to catch them however the drugs are canned,” she said. “We work closely with our border partners in Hong Kong to tackle shipments at the supplier end, and this is very successful.”

The maximum penalty for importing a Class A controlled drug into New Zealand is life imprisonment.

In May, New Zealand Customs seized a diamante-encrusted horse head sculpture containing about 35kg of cocaine valued at NZ$14 million.