Feds Make $1M Ivory Bust

Philadelphia dealer accused of bringing one ton of tusks to US
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2011 1:10 PM CDT
"The amount of elephant ivory allegedly plundered in this case is staggering and highlights the seriousness of the charged crimes," a US attorney said.   (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bill Butcher)
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(Newser) – Tusks from large numbers of elephants killed by poachers in west and central Africa ended up in the hands of a Philadelphia art dealer, federal investigators say. The dealer is accused of paying a co-conspirator to travel to Africa, buy raw ivory for carving, and stain it so the specimens looked much older than they were, the BBC reports.

Hundreds of carvings and scores of tusks, amounting to more than a ton of ivory worth at least $1 million, were seized from the dealer and his customers, notes the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's safe to say dozens of elephants sit before you," a federal agent said as the haul, one of the biggest in US history, was displayed to reporters. The dealer has been charged with 10 counts of violating anti-ivory smuggling laws, and faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

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