Never miss a post! Enter your email address below to subscribe today.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smuggling Arrest and the Law Governing African Elephant Ivory

Federal agents seized approximately one ton of elephant ivory smuggled over three years through JFK International Airport in New York. They arrested Philadelphia art dealer Victor Gordon for allegedly committing acts of conspiracy and smuggling and for violating the Lacey Act, which protects wildlife and other natural resources. He is charged with unlawfully importing and selling African elephant ivory. More details and photos of the extensive ivory haul can be found at http://www.blogger.com/www.justice.gov/usao/nye/pr/2011/2011jul26.html and cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/art-dealer-charged-with-smuggling-ivory-into-u-s/. Also see http://www.justice.gov/usao/nye/pr/2011/2011jul26.html.

The current charges remind us about the laws governing the trade and possession of African ivory. African ivory is a heavily regulated item because of the protections afforded the African elephant under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act.

The rules governing the possession and trade of African elephant ivory in the United States can be summarized as follows:

- It is illegal to own, sell, or export crafted ivory that was imported into the United States after 1989 and which was less than 100 years old when the crafted ivory came across the US border.

- It is illegal to own, sell, or export uncrafted ivory that was imported into the United States after 1989. The age of the ivory does not matter.

- It is legal to own, sell, or export crafted or uncrafted ivory that was imported into the United States before 1989.