Beware of your garden: a man arrested for stealing plants valued at $ 600,000 to sell in Asia. Succulents are highly prized in Asia, where they take years to grow. Each plant can be worth up to $ 1,000 on the black market.
Poaching is not limited exclusively to wild animals. The growing interest in collecting succulents, highly prized in Asia, has led to international networks that make hundreds of thousands of dollars from their illegal sale . A somewhat unknown business that has become news this week after the leader of one of these networks has pleaded guilty to unearthing these plants in California to sell them on the Asian black market.
Succulents are characterized by surviving times of great drought thanks to their ability to store water in their stem, leaves and roots. While in Asia they take years to grow in nurseries, off the coast of California they thrive in the wild. For that reason, they have become the target of plant poachers, who can get up to $ 1,000 for each specimen .
One such hunter is Byungsu Kim of South Korea, who flew in 2018 with two collaborators to Los Angeles, where they unearthed more than 3,000 plants from DeMartin State Beach, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and Russian. Gulchpor, which in the Asian market could exceed $ 600,000 .
The poachers were assisted by a local agricultural inspector who filled out the paperwork necessary to ship the plants to Korea. The succulents were then taken to a Los Angeles commercial exporter, at which point they were arrested on charges of state smuggling and Kim’s passport was confiscated.
The following year, the leader of the international network obtained another passport and fled on foot, together with one of his collaborators, to Tijuana, from where they flew to China and later to South Korea, according to a statement from the California Department of Justice. . He was arrested shortly after in South Africa on similar charges and faces a five-year sentence in federal prison.