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Prision sentence in narwhal tusk case

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From the U.S. Department of Justice:

A resident of Brinnon, Washington, was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to six months in prison and a $25,000 fine for trafficking ivory from protected species. David L. Boone, who operates Boone Trading Company, participated in an operation that illegally smuggled narwhal tusks taken from the threatened Arctic whales into the United States from Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Boone also trafficked in sperm whale teeth and walrus tusks.   
According to records filed in the case, between 2006 and 2008, Boone purchased narwhal tusks from a Canadian and a resident of Tennessee. Narwhals are Arctic whales often called the ‘Unicorn of the Sea’ because of their prominent tusk. While native Inuit of northern Canada are allowed to hunt narwhal, it is illegal to import tusks into the United States. Boone purchased tusks knowing they had been smuggled across the border from Canada, he then sold the tusks on the black market at a huge profit.

 Additionally, in October 2011 Boone sold sperm whale teeth to an undercover law enforcement officer, and in February 2012 bought and sold a walrus skull and tusks. The transactions were illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The Canadian exporter of the narwhal tusks plead guilty to multiple counts of money laundering and was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to more than 5 years in prison. In addition to BOONE, three other United States citizens were prosecuted and convicted for their participation in the narwhal tusk smuggling scheme – one in the District of Maine, and one each in the Districts of Massachusetts and Alaska.

The court directed that the $25,000 criminal fine be paid to the Lacey Act Reward Fund. Monies deposited into this Fund are used to reward persons who furnish information leading to successful enforcement actions against those who traffic in illegally taken fish and wildlife.

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Wild Web busts

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Sea turtle confiscated in Oklahoma as part of Operation Wild Web. Credit: USFWS

Wildlife authorities seized sea turtle skin boots, whale teeth, elephant and walrus ivory and pelts from a Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar during undercover operations target online sales of protected species.

Dubbed Operation Wild Web, the project also seized live migratory birds mounts and others items and led to charges against scores of traffickers in 16 states and three Asian countries, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Operation Wild Web resulted in 154 “buy/busts” in the United States: 30 involving federal wildlife crimes and 124 for violations of state wildlife laws. It also exposed online trafficking of live birds and tiger and leopard pelts in Southeast Asia.

Over a 14-day period in August 2012, approximately 70 Service special agents and conservation officers from State wildlife agencies across the country teamed up to investigate illegal online commerce in wildlife. Agents from the National Park Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped staff some of the 14 “taskforce” groups operating in the United States. Wildlife officers in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia simultaneously ran their own in-country Operation Wild Web taskforces targeting illegal wildlife internet sales.

Additional information is at http://www.fws.gov/operationwildwebrphotos.html.