Two Convicted of Succulent Poaching


Succulents poached this spring in Humboldt County. [Photo provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife]

This is a press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney:

Two men convicted of poaching for profit native succulents that grow wild on the bluffs of the Mendocino coast were sentenced Wednesday to suspended prison in the Mendocino County Superior Court.

Minguk Cho, age 27, of South Korea, and Hyeongjae Kim, age 39, of South Korea, were each convicted of grand theft of property valued at greater than $950, a felony.
Following a sentence bargain negotiated and agreed to by the parties, each defendant was sentenced to 24 months in prison, said prison sentenced being suspended pending successful completion of 36 months of formal probation.

As part of the sentence and in addition to court fines and fees, the defendants were required to pay – and did pay — $10,000 each to the California Fish and Wildlife for habitat restoration. The defendants were also ordered to exit the United States within 48 hours and not return unless their immigration status allows one or both to do so legally. It is anticipated that each defendant will be denied re-entry due to their new felony theft convictions.

These defendants were caught in March 2018 in the area between Point Arena and Anchor Bay with 30 moving boxes of native succulents known as Dudleya Farinosa. An inventory of the boxes revealed 850 rooted plants with 1,400 rosettes. Together, the plants stolen weighed between 600 and 700 pounds.

The two poachers also had with them paperwork for vendors all over the world. According the investigator, “These people are global exotic plant vendors. I’d guess they’re not just in dudleyas but carnivorous plants deep in the jungle in Sumatra.” The local plants can sell to collectors overseas starting at $50 each and going up from there.

The plants targeted by these poachers are also known as “bluff lettuce”, “powdery liveforever” (owing to the leaves’ dusty appearance) or simply “liveforever.” The squat plants boast a geometric beauty reminiscent to some of the blossom of a lotus flower. In bloom, they sprout stalks, decked in clusters of small yellow flowers.

The prosecutors handling this case were District Attorney David Eyster and Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen. The investigating law enforcement agency was the California Fish and Wildlife, with a special nod going to the arresting officer, Warden Patrick Freeling.

The judge who imposed sentencing today was Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman.



  • I guess their alibi didn’t hold water..

  • I’m confused, are they sentenced to two years or to leave the country in 48 hours? Or are they to leave the country 48 hours after there sentences are served? Anyone?

    • “…each defendant was sentenced to 24 months in prison, said prison sentenced being suspended pending successful completion of 36 months of formal probation.”

      Sounds like they promised their own country to be good boys,if they allow them to come home.

      • I read it as “Leave the country within 48 hours after paying court fines and fees (unreported as to amount) and $10,000 and we’ll forget the prison sentence of 24 months. You will be on meaningless probation for 3 years because, unless you are driven by some unknown motivation to illegally reenter the US and get caught committing another crime within that time frame, we will have no idea what you are doing anyway.”

        I’m glad they were stopped no matter what happened afterwards. But I’m afraid that this publicity will let some local sleazebags know there is an illegal market for these plants.

  • 850plants@$50ea=$42,500
    $60 per lb

  • Are these the first guys to fully pay their $10,000 per day fine for no permit!?

  • Good. They’d be up in Humboldt poaching orchids next. Which would probably then die without their fungal support system. I don’t know if Mendocino has more poachers or if they just have better wardens, or if Humboldt just doesn’t report. I know I was asked for my fishing license while harvesting seaweed in Mendo but never in Humboldt.

  • What about the Abalone???

  • It`s been my observation and experience that Orientals are disturbingly callous toward other living things. Unless it`s to eat it, they seem to view any animal or plant only for it`s value to be turned into dollars (or yen, yuan or whatever)

    I wonder if this is genetic or learned behavior. An almost total absence of compassion for other living things.

    • Racist much??? Especially toward “ASIANS”!!!

      • Mr. F, just because Mr. Ross calls asians orientals doesn’t mean he’s racist, just ignorant. Mr. Ross, the word oriental is now used primarily for furniture, not the people from Asia.

        People from Asia do seem to have a different view from westerners (about harvesting plants and wildlife). Perhaps it is partly from the fact some of them come from very overcrowded countries, countries that don’t have the kind of laws protecting the enviroment that we do (or the kind of life we do). Many of them are hungry too. Hungry for more food, and a better life.

        Times are changing though. My Asian wife and our two young (mixed) children just last week saved about 1000 baby spring run salmon. Fish left to die by water managers dropping the Trinity River flow at the time of year it should already be at its lowest. The fish were stranded in a pool, while the water continued to drop, and the pool was drying up.

        Its easy to blame a race for something you don’t agree with. Education is a better way.

        My advice; take a breath, calm yourself down, and try not to be a dumbass.

      • Mr. Ross is pointing out the differences in culture, not race. He may be racist, but his expressed observations don’t indicate this, and an educated mind would not accuse him of being so without some sort of further evidence. Each country, state, county, town and village has it’s own culture. Culture influences the making of a man, not his race. No sane person would condemn anyone based strictly on their race. Here in the US we have a culture unique to the most successful country in the world, and we do not take kindly to people who come here and attempt to radically alter or destroy our culture. Same as when an American goes to any other country. To call someone a racist for pointing out cultural differences only exposes the race baiter as being ignorant, disrespectful, sullen, and probably having an insufficient IQ to understand the world around them.

        • He was speculating whether the behavior was genetic. That’s racist (also ignorant.)

          You are bending over backwards to defend him. Mealy-mouthed and racist.

          • Save the outrage for later

            He wouldn’t be the first. “”I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want,” he said.”

            “Chan’s remarks reignited what is actually an old and fundamental question about whether Western-style freedoms are culturally specific to the West, or are universal values appropriate for everybody.”

            “…as one Chinese student studying for a master’s degree in New York told me in the wake of the Chan episode, “Actually, most Chinese people think they already have enough freedom.””


    • Fuck you, you stupid fucken inbred.

    • Yes, poachers are predominantly recent Asian immigrants, primarily from China and southeast Asia. Apparently their culture does not respect the laws protecting natural resources from being depleted by over-harvesting. I’ve never someone with a Japanese name arrested for poaching; their culture seems to be more respectful. Second generation Asians are as American as the rest of us.

      • Loleta Bull Farmer

        Obviously…. you’ve never met a local meat hunter..proly bag a Asian if given a chance..he wouldn’t care if it’s Asian season or not…no way are most poachers anything but hillbilly white…imo

        • your opinion might be outdated, mostly the humong killing everything around here(my neck of the woods) I don’t dislike them they are nice people just the facts.

    • its called coming from poverty.

    • Racism is unbelievably ugly. Of course white people such as yourself never poach or steal or sell their fellow humans into slavery so you are good to go. “Orientals”, really? You should be very ashamed, but I doubt you know the meaning of the word.

    • My guess is that you’ve mentally compartmentalized all the horrible shit Europeans traditionally into a category of animal abuse that “doesn’t count.” Factory farms, puppy mills, foie grad, ECT…

      On the subject of genetics, humans have almost no instinctive behavior. Everything we do is learned. Your kind of racist thinking has no basis in reality.

      • If it wasn’t for the desire to blame one race, which is safe to do in the US if it’s white people you do it to whereas complaining about other races’ animal welfare standards might seem “culturally insensitive” if not down right racist, you would note that most other cultures’ standards on animal rights are far, far worse.

        As to the utter silliness of saying humans have no instinctive behavior, human behavior is just as instinctive as any other animal, including the desire to bully fellow members of their society to establish their place in the pecking order. The place of learning in human society to teach people to overcome their instincts where it’s helpful to do so. Anyway animals certainly learn how to use their instincts too- just without exository language.

        • That’s learned behavior. A baby comes into this world with the ability to laugh, cry and a fear of loud noises. Everything else is learned. If you think Asians come into this world with a different set of instructions, you’re fucking delusional.

          • And no one stays a baby, with or without learning. As a child matures, whether they’re in a uniform society or not, they reach a point where their cognitive development- their biology- can differentiate between like and unlike things. Once they do that, they apply it to themselves and others. What has to be learned is when that instinctive understanding is appropriate. In the absence of being taught it is not always appropriate to differentiate, racism is born. Without ever having seen or experienced other races, they will find differences between themselves and others on which to base their actions.

            The world is full of literature and studies about how to teach empathy, tolerance, etc. In other words those are the things needed to be learned, not the opposite. The opposite is instinctual.

            • That article was not about the inherent racism in babies. I’m not really sure what it had to do with the point you were making.

  • These dudes were not just your average foraging stoners, leaving hunting to the meat-eaters out there… No, these vegan vandals were caught greenhanded in the act of sophisticated criminal gathering…

    “I’d guess they’re not just in dudleyas but carnivorous plants deep in the jungle in Sumatra.” The local plants can sell to collectors overseas starting at $50 each and going up from there.


  • I can assure you as a “Murrikan” that Asians are not any worse on nature than us whitebread whiteys…

    Have you seen my 12 Valve Cummins? I just tuned it up for MORE SMOKE!

    • Americans are so naive about Asian cultures in general. It would be so helpful to understanding to live in Japan, for example, to be the recipient of racist remarks where no one thinks that is wrong or inappropriate. Embarassed for exhibiting bad manners sometimes but never questioning their own values. Americans might be a bit more forgiving of their own issues when they realize most of the rest of the world is just as bad, more polite maybe depending, but not at all guilty about it.

  • anyway, poachers suck. Get a permit, then you can suck succulents all day

  • considering the historic exploitation of the Asian slave trade in this region, opening up your trap to define “what Asians do” is racist, foolhardy, and just plain ignorant.

  • America the dummys

    There probably laughing at America after not getting in trouble for commiting serious environmental damage . Now you see why Americans look like idiots . This country is filled with idiots. Way to send a message to not come here and exploit our country . They will be back especially after such a light sentence. Maybe they could have sent them an abatement letter then they would have gotten some real fines . I think 7 year prison sentence would be a good sentence . This is serious organized crime .

  • Disgusting human beings

  • Since this is Mendocino, has anybody tried drying and smoking Dudleya Farinosa?

    • You go first ! Ok…. Just saying.
      In all walks of life we All are in some way brought up with racisim in us. I mean the white kids hang out, the blacks, the Asians, Latino, Native American, Islanders, etc etc the list goes on. So sure at some degree this is how we are taught but the difference in cultures is whether or not they are willing to trust & allow if you will to let this stranger into your world. After all we are animals too, and we do the very same as they do. That is mate, have babies & grow families. Protecting our family is where the race card comes into play, it’s like a wild card played that can either win it or ose it all. Trust is in your heart & love for mankind no matter the color or walk of life but just like that animal out there I’m gonna do everything in my power to first protect my own before worrying about another. That’s life of humans & animals everywhere. So these assholes coming into our country only to steal from us ok nly to make money only for themselves then they should have gotten what we as Americans would have gotten if we were in their Country & did this. Sent to PRISON and made to work. Fact!!

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