Two flight attendants for a Chinese airline were fined and ordered to leave the United States within 72 hours for attempting to smuggle nearly two-dozen spotted and box turtles in a carry-on bag from Los Angeles to China.
City News Service reports Monday that U.S. District Judge S. James Otero ordered Chinese nationals Huaqian Qu and Renfeng Gao to pay $5,500 each to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before returning to China within three days.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the two China Eastern attendants pleaded guilty last month to a federal conspiracy charge, which carries a possible penalty of up to five years behind bars.
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While prosecutors argued for 10-month prison sentences, Otero says the smuggling offense "was not violent," and the probationary sentences with fines were "sufficient."