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Plant Poacher Who Attempted To Smuggle Over 3,700 Succulents Out Of CA Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison

A grouping of about a dozen light green dudleya succulent plants sit on rocky ground.
Dudleya caespitosa plants at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley. The dudleya caespitosa is one of the most common members of the dudleya family of succulents endemic to California.
(Stan Shebs
Wikimedia Commons)
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A South Korean man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his involvement in a scheme to smuggle over 3,700 succulents out of Southern California.

Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old Byungsu Kim and his accomplices harvested dudleya plants from Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, DeMartin State Beach in Klamath and Russian Gulch State Park in Mendocino County in Oct. 2018.

"There's a big problem in California of people poaching plants, basically stealing them from state parks, and then smuggling them to the Asian black market where they're very popular amongst collectors in Asia," Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew O'Brien told us.

According to the Department of Justice, the stolen plants were worth a total of at least $150,000.

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"On October 11, 2018, Kim and co-defendants Youngin Back, 47, and Bong Jun Kim, 46, traveled by car from Los Angeles International Airport to Crescent City, California," read the DOJ news release on the case. "From October 14 to October 16, Kim and the co-defendants harvested numerous Dudleya plants [from the state parks.]"

The operation then involved obtaining a fraudulent government-issued certificate in Vista in San Diego County before hauling the succulents to a plant exporter in Compton. They were taken into custody by law enforcement after leaving the Compton exporter.

Kim was also ordered to pay $3,985 in restitution to the state of California for restitution relating to the costs of replanting the uprooted greenery.