WALNUT – A local dairy worker has been indicted for conspiring to smuggle rare and valuable plants from Zimbabwe. According to the Department of Justice, Andrew Anhh Nguyen of Walnut was charged by a federal grand jury with conspiring to import Encephalartos plants – a variety of cycad resembling a palm or tree fern – which are illegal to import under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Nguyen was charged with eight counts of customs offenses and one count of violating the Endangered Species Act. Attempts to contact Nguyen were unsuccessful. He allegedly entered an agreement in 2001 to buy 51 Encephalartos plants from a co-conspirator for $26,000. The plants shipped to Nguyen from Zimbabwe were labeled as a different species than what they really were, said Joseph Johns, assistant U. S. Attorney. Johns said the plants, which date to the Jurassic period, are popular among avid plant collectors, and “very wealthy people who have too much money and would like a trophy plant for landscaping.” But in Zimbabwe and other African countries where the plants grow, they are threatened by habitat loss and over-collection. Nguyen was charged after a two-year nationwide undercover investigation in which agents posed as smugglers and collectors. Dozens of plant smugglers have been charged, Johns said. “These plants date back hundreds of millions of years,” he said. “I think it’s kind of cool that we still have `dinosaur food’ around, and it’s a shame people are willing to pay other folks to illegally harvest them from the wilds of Africa … to put in a pot next to someone’s pool.” Certain species of cycads can fetch tens of thousands of dollars apiece. Nguyen, whom Johns said runs a nursery out of his back yard, faces up to five years in prison for each felony count, and one year for the misdemeanor count, if convicted. firstname.lastname@example.org (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
- “It’s Gudelj’s lack; they can complain but you’re welcome. What Monchi said is strong …”
- Ibaka excels and Marc Gasol is injured in a good day for the Spanish in the NBA
- Fridge or pantry: Guide to know where to store each food of the purchase
- Barça has a strategic advantage over Madrid by Lautaro
- Jordi Alba, injured two weeks from Naples and the Classic