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Alaskans Plead Guilty to Trafficking in Walrus Ivory

They traded with native Eskimos, say authorities
By Luke Kelly-Clyne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2011 1:33 PM CDT
Alaskans Plead Guilty to Trafficking in Walrus Ivory
This 2007 photo provided by the North Slope Borough shows a young male walrus resting on the beach in Barrow, Alaska.   (AP Photo/North Slope Borough, Noe Texeira)

(Newser) – Huge quantities of walrus tusks and a pair of polar bear hides were among the illegal goods sold by two Alaskans who have pleaded guilty to violating federal marine mammal laws. A third person is expected to plead guilty next week. Authorities say two of the three spent years traveling back and forth to Saint Lawrence Island to trade cigarettes, guns, and snowmobiles with Eskimo villagers in exchange for federally protected animal parts, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The third accomplice then helped sell the parts online.

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All face serious jail time for illegally trafficking in hundreds of pounds of raw walrus ivory in what Reuters calls the biggest such case in Alaska in 20 years. The Eskimo villagers can legally hunt walrus, and it's not clear yet whether any will face charges for supplying the ivory. When asked by the judge if he understood the implications of his guilty plea, Jesse James LeBoeuf responded, "Sir, I just did what I did to get along in life." (Read more walruses stories.)

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