January 3, 2013

Feds bust alleged narwhal tusk smuggling ring

An indictment says two Canadians smuggled the Arctic whale tusks into Maine, where they were illegally shipped via FedEx to American buyers.

PORTLAND — Officials say they have broken up a smuggling ring in which narwhal tusks from the Canadian Artic were brought to Maine in a trailer with a secret compartment and then illegally sold to American buyers.

click image to enlarge

Narwhals breaching the ocean surface.

Glenn Williams / The National Institute of Standards and Technology

Andrew Zarauskus, of Union, N.J., and Jay Conrad, of Lakeland, Tenn., will be arraigned in Bangor next week on federal smuggling and money laundering charges.

An indictment says two Canadians for nearly a decade smuggled the whale tusks into Maine, where they were shipped via FedEx to Zarauskus, Conrad and other American buyers.

Narwhals are known as the unicorns of the sea for their spiral, ivory tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. The tusks can sell for thousands of dollars each, but it's illegal to import them into the U.S.

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