A Tasmanian woman will face up to 10 years of imprisonment after smuggling hundreds of garlic bulbs into Australia.
After smuggling over 2,000 garlic bulbs into the land down under, an Australian court sentenced farmer Letetia Ware of 11 months jail time and fined her $2,000 AUD.
She also faces up to a decade in prison and a fine of up to $300,000 AUD. According to Newsweek, the strict penalties come as garlic is known to carry an infectious bacteria known as Xylella fastidiosa, which poses a threat to hundreds of plant species.
The bacteria has killed citrus orchards in Brazil and destroyed some of California's vineyards and almond trees, as per the Invasive Species Specialist Group. Xylella fastidiosa also devastated Italy's billions of dollars worth of olive groves.
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This is why Australia requires garlic products to have a permit, have a certificate stating they're pest- and disease-free, and aundergo rigorous fumigation treatment once they arrive.
Although there have yet to be reports of the bacteria wreaking havoc in the country, the Xylella fastidiosa is still seen as a major threat to Australian biosecurity.
For 18 months, Ware smuggled in garlic from Romanian, French, and Korean garlic varieties from Canada and the US using several eBay accounts.
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Prosecutor Thomas Jones told Newsweek that the farmer had instructed her to break up the bulbs into no more than 5.3 ounces and even label the contents as "office supplies" in order to avoid quarantine.
Ware turned to smuggling garlic because she was at risk of losing her farm, which had been unprofitable for several years, defense attorney Ian Arendt said.
Regardless, Judge Gregory Geason reasoned that the farmer's actions have "created [a] risk to all agricultural activity" and that sanctions placed on her reflected the potential harm. Ware showed little remorse, according to Geason, as her actions only ceased when she was caught.
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"She's the lead person in the garlic society and yet she's quite prepared to import not once, not twice, garlic that could be diseased at great risk to Tasmania's agricultural industry and the nation's," Geason said.
"The fact that they weren't diseased is just good luck. This conduct is difficult to detect so a harsh penalty is needed to cause others to pause before engaging in similar activity."