Flight attendant pleads guilty to trying to smuggle turtles out of L.A.

Federal prosecutors say a flight attendant for a Chinese airline has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle nearly two dozen spotted and box turtles in a carry-on bag from Los Angeles to China.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Huaqian Qu, a Chinese national, entered his plea Thursday to a charge of conspiracy. He faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced July 23.

Officials say Qu and a fellow flight crew member with China Eastern Airlines tried to unlawfully export a total of 45 turtles that are protected under international trade law. The turtles could have been worth more than $40,000 in Asia.