Australia strawberry scare: Woman arrested in Queensland

BREAKING: Woman arrested following major investigation into national strawberry contamination

The woman faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty after Australia's conservative government toughened sentencing in a bid to contain the crisis.

Ms Trinh was arrested amid a months-long, multi-jurisdiction investigation headed by Queensland police after the discovery of needles hidden inside a punnet of strawberries on September 12.

After news of the contamination first broke, dozens of "copycat" cases began popping up across the country, with reports of needles in strawberries, apples, oranges and even bananas emerging in every state and territory.

Queensland Police Service said the 50-year-old woman was arrested on Sunday afternoon "following a complex. and extensive investigation", which was spearheaded by the force and involved "multiple government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies" across Australia.

The charges stem from one of the first cases of sewing needles found in strawberries by the fruit company Berry Licious.

Ms Trinh's lawyer Michael Cridland made a bail application but withdrew it after magistrate Christine Roney advised it was "premature" because the motivation behind the alleged contamination was still unclear.

"A police taskforce was established with officers from the State Crime Command coordinating the investigation together with detectives in a number of police districts in Queensland".

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Wacker said police received 186 complaints of fruit contamination, of which 15 had been found to be hoaxes.

He said Trinh, a former refugee who arrived in Australia by boat more than two decades ago, had strong family ties to Brisbane.

Earlier on Monday, Detective John Walker said the investigation had been unique in that it involved nearly every state and jurisdiction in the country.

A 50-year-old woman was arrested in connection with strawberries contaminated with sewing needles.

The crisis led to harsher penalties being rushed through federal parliament for those caught tampering with food.

At least seven brands were affected, and as supermarkets pulled strawberries off the shelves, tonnes of the fruit was dumped at the peak of the growing season. The woman was taken to the Brisbane watch house after her arrest.

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