New Zealand Lockdown Police Arrest Kentucky Fried Chicken Smugglers

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Traffic management workers direct a large queue of cars through the KFC drive through in Manukau on September 22, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. Restrictions have eased for Auckland residents, with the Greater Auckland area moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 settings from 11:59pm …
Phil Walter/Getty Images

In one of the strangest scenes from New Zealand’s bizarre coronavirus lockdowns, two alleged gang members were busted on Sunday while attempting to smuggle a large quantity of Kentucky Fried Chicken into the locked-down capital of Auckland. 

The authorities published photos of the tasty contraband spread across the hood of a police car, as if they had bagged a prize haul of illegal guns or drugs:

“Close examination of the police evidence photos revealed at least three buckets of chicken, up to 10 tubs of coleslaw, and an undisclosed quantity of fries,” the UK Guardian reported.

Roughly $70,000 in cash was also confiscated from the chicken runners, who were described by police officials as “gang associates,” age 23 and 30. They were charged with attempting to breach the Level 4 coronavirus lockdown of Auckland and for attempting to flee from the authorities. The smugglers could face up to six months in prison and fines of up to $4,000.

Police officials hinted on Monday that more charges against the pair could be forthcoming. Possession of Col. Sanders’ secret recipe is not currently illegal in New Zealand, but playing chicken with the police is frowned upon.

“Officers noticed a suspicious-looking vehicle travelling on a gravel road and upon seeing the police car, the vehicle did a U-turn and sped off trying to evade police. The vehicle was searched and police located the cash, alongside empty ounce bags and a large amount of takeaways,” said a statement from law enforcement.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 30: Northland Police check travel documentation on State Highway One at the Maungaturoto turnoff with north and southbound traffic in and out of Auckland on August 30, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland and Northland are expected to remain in level four lockdown on Wednesday when the rest of the country moves to Alert level 3. Level 4 lockdown restrictions remain in place across Auckland as new COVID-19 cases continue to be recorded. Under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 measures, people are instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential reasons, with travel severely limited. All non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. All indoor and outdoor events are banned, while schools have switched to online learning. Essential services remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

New Zealand, and parts of Australia, have drawn worldwide attention for imposing incredibly strict lockdowns over tiny numbers of Wuhan coronavirus infections. Auckland’s 1.7 million residents went under prison-level lockdown rules in August over a total of 955 reported cases of the “Delta variant.” New Zealand has suffered a grand total of 3,593 coronavirus infections and 27 deaths during the entire pandemic.

After five weeks under lockdown, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that Auckland will reduce its lockdown level from 4 to 3, meaning inmate-residents will be allowed to “expand their bubbles” slightly by occasionally leaving their homes, provided they keep their distance from each other.

The Guardian pointed out that under Level 4 protocols, takeout food such as Kentucky Fried Chicken was prohibited, giving fast food “the aura of a high-value illicit substance.” Criminal charges were filed against an Auckland man last week because he posted a social media video of himself crossing the city’s borders in search of a McDonald’s restaurant.

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