A Southern California woman who helped illegally trade the horns of endangered black rhinos is avoiding prison.
Nhu Mai Nguyen was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles federal court to three years of probation — including a year of home detention — and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. She also agreed to forfeit 100 gold bars seized from her safe deposit box.
Prosecutors said Nguyen was part of an Orange County-based smuggling ring. She received packages of South African rhinoceros horns at a nail salon she used to operate in the San Bernardino County city of Highland, then sent them to her former boyfriend.
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The horns were then shipped to Vietnam and China, where they are believed to have medicinal powers and carry an immense black market price tag.
The trade generated millions of dollars in profits, authorities said.
Poaching of rhinos for their horns have left the animals endangered and it is illegal to trade in their horns. Hundreds of rhinos have been killed in South Africa alone.
Nguyen was one of six people who pleaded guilty in 2012 in connection with the smuggling scheme. Nguyen's boyfriend, Jimmy Kha, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.