Trio tried to smuggle $600,000 worth of California succulents, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say more than $600,000 worth of Dudleya plants, a succulent prized in Asia, were poached from coastal park areas in Northern California.
(Stefano Paltera / For The Times )

Three South Korean citizens have been charged with trying to illegally export thousands of plants poached from remote Northern California state parks.

Prosecutors say the three, who include a Vista nursery operator, pulled thousands of Dudleya plants worth more than $600,000 from coastal park areas, intending to ship them to South Korea.

The succulents are prized in Asia, but they take years to grow in nurseries.

Authorities say that last year, they seized more than 3,700 plants that the defendants allegedly planned to ship through a commercial exporter in Compton.

The three were charged Friday with conspiracy and attempting to export plants taken in violation of state law. Each could face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.


One person is in custody, and two are fugitives.