Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut February 19, 2014 - 6:03 am

U.S. man convicted for smuggling narwhal tusks from Canada

Tusks smuggled by way of New Brunswick-based Canadian seller

PETER VARGA
A New Jersey man was convicted Feb. 14 of smuggling narwhal tusks — legally harvested in Nunavut — into the U.S. (FILE PHOTO)
A New Jersey man was convicted Feb. 14 of smuggling narwhal tusks — legally harvested in Nunavut — into the U.S. (FILE PHOTO)

A New Jersey man was found guilty in U.S. federal court Feb. 14 on charges of illegally trafficking narwhal tusks smuggled from into the U.S. from Canada.

A federal jury in Bangor, Maine, convicted Andrew Zarauskas of Union, N.J., on several counts of smuggling and money laundering in a case that involves the purchase of narwhal tusks “illegally imported into the United States from Canada,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a Feb. 14 news release.

According to evidence presented at the trial, “Zarauskas conspired with others, including persons from Canada, to illegally import the protected tusks for re-sale in the United States,” the news release states.

Bangor Daily News reported that evidence presented in the trial showed that Gregory Logan of New Brunswick sold about 33 tusks to Zarauskas for more than $85,000 U.S., between 2002 and 2008.

Logan faces an extradition request from the U.S. for trial on charges related to the sales.

Logan, a former RCMP officer originally from Alberta, was convicted in Canada on Oct. 1, 2013, on seven counts for the illegal sale of tusks to U.S. buyers, and smuggling of the tusks from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, to Calais, Maine.

Although the tusks were harvested legally in Nunavut, the United States prohibits the import and sale of narwhal tusks.

“Zarauskas and his co-conspirators flouted U.S. law and international agreements that protect marine animals such as narwhal for their own personal financial benefit,” Robert Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, stated in the U.S. news release.

The New Jersey man faces a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment in the U.S. and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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