Hunting News

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Former Canadian Mountie Sentenced to Money Laundering Charges Stemming from a Conspiracy to Smuggle Ivory Tusks



A retired officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock for the District of Maine to 62 months in prison for 10 money laundering offenses, announced the Justice Department. Gregory R. Logan, 59, of St. John, New Brunswick, was extradited to the United States from Canada on March 11, 2016.  He was indicted in the District of Maine in November 2012 and charged with conspiracy, smuggling and money laundering, and pled guilty to 10 money laundering offenses on September 28, 2016.

“This defendant illegally imported hundreds of narwhal tusks into the United States, with a value in the millions of dollars.  Unlawful wildlife trade like this undermines efforts by federal, state, and foreign governments to protect and restore populations of species like the narwhal, a majestic creature of the sea with long and spiraled protruding ivory tusks,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Our Division successfully worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Canadian Government to successfully conclude this case.”

“This investigation highlights the best of law enforcement working together.  Our special agents, with counterparts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment and Climate Change Canada, investigated a complex scheme where illegal narwhal tusks were trafficked across the U.S.-Canada border,” said acting Chief of Law Enforcement Ed Grace for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Wildlife smuggling is a transnational crime that knows no borders and requires an international response. We will continue to work closely with our international, federal, and state partners to investigate and arrest individuals who smuggle and sell protected wildlife for their own financial gain.”

"Today's sentencing brings to a close a long investigation and prosecutorial process that underscores our global commitment to end wildlife trafficking," said Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. "We are grateful for the international cooperation that has lead to this conclusion."

“This case is the result of a successful joint investigation involving partners across Canada and the United States working to stop the illegal commercialization and exploitation of Canadian wildlife, in this case the smuggling of narwhal tusks,” said Glen Ehler, Regional Director, Wildlife Enforcement Directorate, Enforcement Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada. “Today’s sentence and the previous conviction in Canada send a strong message that this type of offence will not be tolerated.”

Logan was involved in a scheme to smuggle narwhal tusks from Canada to the United States for sale to American customers and transfer the proceeds of those sales back to Canada.  Logan was arrested in Canada, based on a request from the United States, in December 2013.  Logan pleaded guilty to a related wildlife smuggling crime in Canada and the terms of his extradition limited the case against him in the United States to the money laundering offenses.  Also charged in the original indictment was Andrew J. Zarauskas of Union, New Jersey.  Zarauskas was convicted after a jury trial in Bangor and sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Narwhals are medium-sized toothed whales that are native to the Arctic.  They are known for their distinctive ivory tusk, which can grow to more than eight feet in length.  Given the threats to their population, narwhals are protected domestically by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and internationally by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – an international treaty to which more than 170 countries, including the United States and Canada, are parties.  It is illegal to import narwhals, or their parts, into the United States for commercial purposes.  Further, any importation must be accompanied by a permit and must be declared to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to the indictment, Logan smuggled more than 250 narwhal tusks into the United States between 2000 and 2010.  As part of the plea agreement, Logan agreed that the market value of the narwhal tusks in this case was between $1.5 million and $3 million. Knowing that the tusks were illegal to bring into the United States and sell, Logan transported them across the border in false compartments in his vehicle and trailer.  Logan utilized a shipping store in Ellsworth, Maine, to send the tusks to customers throughout the United States, including Zarauskas and others.  Logan knew that his customers would re-sell the tusks for a profit and in an attempt to increase that re-sale price, Logan would occasionally provide fraudulent documentation claiming that the tusks had originally belonged to a private collector in Maine who had acquired them legally.



In addition to shipping the tusks from Maine, Logan maintained a post office box the Ellsworth shipping store as well as an account at a bank in Bangor.  Logan instructed his customers to send payment in the form of checks to the post office box, or wire money directly to his Maine bank account.  Logan then transported the money to Canada by having the shipping store forward his mail to him in Canada, and by using an ATM card to withdraw money from his Maine bank account at Canadian ATM machines.  At times, Logan also directed his customers to send funds directly to him in Canada.



The case was investigated by special agents of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement; and Wildlife Officers from Environment and Climate Change Canada.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James B. Nelson and Lauren D. Steele. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Long Island Man Sentenced to Two Years for Trafficking Rhinoceros Horns



Fengyi Zhou, a resident of Syosset, New York, and the owner of a business specializing in Asian works of art, was sentenced today to two years of imprisonment for one count of information of wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act for illegally trafficking horns from endangered black rhinoceros, the Justice Department announced.

The sentence was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Greg Sheehan, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

According to papers filed in federal court, Zhou admitted to purchasing as many as five uncarved rhinoceros horns from another Asian arts dealer in New York. Along with the horns, Zhou was given an “Endangered Species Bill of Sale,” from which Zhou was made aware that four of the horns were purchased in Texas and unlawfully transported to New York. Immediately after purchasing the rhinoceros horns, Zhou offered to sell and later sold the horns, to an associate who was a Chinese national residing in the People’s Republic of China for more than $130,000.

"Illegal trade in rhino horn and ivory undermines vital efforts to protect imperiled species and is a serious violation of U.S. and international laws,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department will continue to prosecute those guilty of illegal wildlife trafficking.”

"Today's sentencing sends a strong message to those individuals who choose to exploit and illegally traffic black rhinos and other imperiled wildlife," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Assistant Director for Law Enforcement Ed Grace. "We appreciate the efforts and dedication of all of our partners involved in this case and will continue to work with the Department of Justice and others to punish these criminals to the fullest extent of the law."

Zhou was identified as part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide crackdown by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against those who engage in illegal trafficking of rhinoceros horns. A “crash” is the term for a herd of rhinoceros. Operation Crash is an ongoing effort to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns. As of November 2015, Operation Crash has resulted in the prosecution and sentencing of nearly 32 subjects and recovery of approximately $5.6 million through forfeiture and restitution.

Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horns has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 180 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife, and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets. All species of rhinoceros are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act are protected under United States and international law.

The investigation was led by the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Fishery and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. The attorneys prosecuting the case were Lauren D. Steele and Gary N. Donner of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Friday, September 15, 2017

California Man Convicted for Role in the Illegal Sale of Black Rhinoceros Horns



Edward N. Levine was convicted yesterday for conspiracy to violate the Lacey and Endangered Species Acts and to a violation of the Lacey Act by knowingly selling black rhinoceros horns to an undercover agent from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), announced the Justice Department. Sentencing has been set for December 15. Levine’s co-defendant, Lumsden Quan, was sentenced in December 2015.

Levine was arrested in March 2014 for his role in a conspiracy to knowingly sell black rhinoceros horns across state lines. Levine worked with Quan to transport two horns from California to Nevada, where the men sold them to an undercover agent from Colorado for a sum of $55,000.

This case is part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide crackdown by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against those who engage in illegal trafficking of rhinoceros horns. A “crash” is the term for a herd of rhinoceros. Operation Crash is an ongoing effort to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns. As of November 2015, Operation Crash has resulted in the prosecution and sentencing of nearly 32 subjects and recovery of approximately $5.6 million through forfeiture and restitution.

Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horns has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 180 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife, and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets. All species of rhinoceros are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The investigation was handled by the USFWS’s Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section. The government is represented by Trial Attorney Ryan Connors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Newman, Paralegal Christopher Kopf, and Paralegal Amanda Backer.