Here’s the latest in the narwhal tusk smuggling investigation:

Narwhal Tusk Trafficker Convicted of Conspiracy and Money Laundering
Feb. 14, 2014

BANGOR — A New Jersey man was found guilty today by a federal jury in Bangor, Maine, of illegally trafficking and smuggling narwhal tusks, and associated money laundering crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

  Andrew L. Zarauskas, 60, of Union,  was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, smuggling and money laundering violations for buying narwhal tusks knowing the tusks had been illegally imported into the United States from Canada, as well as selling or attempting to sell the tusks after their illegal importation.

Authorities allege from 2002 to 2008, Zarauskas purchased approximately 33 narwhal tusks that he knew were illegally imported into the United States in violation of federal law. A narwhal is a medium-sized whale with an extremely long tusk that projects from its upper left jaw, often referred to as the unicorn of the sea. As marine mammals narwhals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

It is illegal to import parts of marine mammals into the United States without the requisite permits and without declaring the items to U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Narwhal tusks are commonly collected for display purposes and can fetch large sums of money.

According to evidence presented at the trial, Zarauskas conspired with others, including persons located in Canada, to illegally import the protected tusks for re-sale in the United States and to launder the funds used to purchase the narwhal tusks by transferring checks and money orders from New Jersey to Canada, intending that the money be used for further illegal imports of narwhal tusks.

On Jan. 7, 2014, Jay G. Conrad, of Lakeland, Tenn., who had been charged in the same indictment, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally import and traffic narwhal tusks, conspiring to launder money, and illegally trafficking narwhal tusks. On that same date, a plea agreement was also unsealed in which Eddie T. Dunn, of Eads, Tenn., pleaded guilty in the District of Alaska to conspiring to illegally traffic, and trafficking, narwhal tusks.

Throughout the conspiracy, Zarauskus and others made payments to the Canadian supplier for the narwhal tusks, by sending the payments to a mailing address in Bangor, Maine, or directly to the supplier in Canada, authorities said. The payments allowed the Canadian supplier to purchase and re-supply Zarauskus and Conrad with more narwhal tusks that they could then re-sell. Conrad sold between $400,000 and $1 million worth of narwhal tusks and Dunn sold approximately $1.1 million worth of narwhal tusks as members of the conspiracy.

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