- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A repeat ginseng poacher is facing six months in prison after being convicted of the illegal possession or harvesting of the plant.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose says 47-year-old Billy Joe Hurley was convicted Wednesday for illegally possessing more than 500 ginseng roots he dug in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It’s a familiar situation for Hurley, who’s been convicted four times previously for ginseng poaching, including last year. A magistrate judge sentenced Hurley again Thursday.

Poachers can get up to $200 for fresh roots, while dried roots can go for more than $900.

The Chinese have used ginseng for thousands of years as everything from an aphrodisiac to an elixir of longevity. But Asian ginseng has become virtually extinct due in part to overharvesting

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