By CBS13 Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBS13) — A South Korean national was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for attempting to illegally export to Asia Dudleya succulent plants. Collectively, they were worth at least $150,000.

The plants were illegally pulled out of the ground at remote state parks in Northern California.

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The 46-year-old man, Byungsu Kim, was ordered to pay $3,985 in restitution to the State of California for expenses related to replanting the stolen plants after his arrest.

Kim was well aware that removing the Dudleya plants was illegal. He had searched the terms “poaching succulents” and “Dudleya” on his smartphone and had read a press release about the arrest and conviction of three other Dudleya poachers.

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Kim and the co-defendants flew from Northern California to a nursery in Vista on October 22, 2018, to unload the Dudleya plants they had stolen the week before. The guys went to Russian Gulch State Park in Mendocino County the next day, where they dug more Dudleya plants out of the ground while wearing backpacks and communicating with hand-held radios before returning to the Vista nursery.

In October of this year, he was detained in South Africa on charges connected to a similar plot in which he illegally harvested plants from protected regions in that country to ship to South Korea. After spending a year in custody in South Africa, Kim pleaded guilty to the criminal charges and was extradited to the United States in October 2020. Since October 2020, he has been held in federal custody.

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“[Kim’s] willful criminal conduct in October 2019 was not an isolated event: he had carried out the same scheme repeatedly in California,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “[Kim] had traveled to the United States more than 50 times since 2009. Customs records show that he was traveling for succulent-related purposes and often with tens of thousands of dollars in cash (sometimes declared, sometimes not) and fake phytosanitary certificates.”