A court in Southwest China's Yunnan Province sentenced three men to prison for breaking into a botanical garden and making off with a rare rosewood tree valued at 360,100 yuan ($52,982).
The suspects were sentenced to eight years each for cutting down the rare fragrant rosewood tree at a garden affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CCTV News reported on Sunday.
The men were also fined a total of 100,000 yuan, the Xishuangbanna Intermediate People's Court ruled in December.
The court found the men had sneaked into the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden on October 9, 2015. There they chopped down the fragrant rosewood tree and hid the trunk in a fish pond.
Police detained one of the suspects a week later, prompting the other two to smuggle the tree across the border into Laos, the court heard.
The fragrant rosewood tree is a second-class protected plant in China, sought after for its medicinal and ornamental value, local forestry bureau officials said.