Los Angeles — The tip came from a woman standing in line at a post office in a small town in northern California. A customer was shipping dozens of boxes to China, and the caller suspected they were filled with abalone, a highly prized shellfish listed as an endangered species. But fish and wildlife officers who responded to the call instead uncovered an international smuggling ring that has been stripping the bluffs along the northern California coastline of Dudleya succulent plants and shipping them to countries in Asia where they are used for decoration. "The poachers literally fly into the US just to get these plants so they can ship them to Korea, China or Japan," said Captain Patrick Foy, of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "They are ripping them out of the ground and selling them between $40 and $50 dollars a piece." The plant, which grows in bud-like circles and resembles an artichoke, is called Dudleya farinosa and is native to the rugged coastlines of Oregon...

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