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Five Indicted in Illegal Ivory Smuggling Ring

Five people and a business were indicted on Tuesday for their involvement in an illegal ivory smuggling ring based in Honolulu. On May 20th, federal agents intercepted numerous boxes of elephant, walrus and whale ivory from an Iwilei warehouse. The ivory had been shipped from Hawaii to the Philippines to be carved then sent back to Hawaii for sale at their retail sites across Honolulu. The five defendants were charged with violations of the federal Endangered Species, Marine Mammal Protection and Lacey Acts and each face up to 20 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine. The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International commend the Hawaii and Pacific Islands Office of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Office of Law Enforcement and United States Attorney General for Hawaii Florence Nakakuni for their prosecution.

Inga Gibson, Hawaii senior state director for The HSUS and pacific islands policy specialist for HSI said: “We thank these federal agencies for intervening in this case and prosecuting the defendants to the fullest extent allowed under federal law. This case proves that state laws are needed to crack down on the bloody and lucrative illegal ivory trade. Had Hawaii, as the third largest ivory retailer in the nation, passed a law prohibiting the sale of these products this criminal ring may have been intercepted earlier.”

Keith Swindle, Resident Agent in Charge for the Hawaii and Pacific Office of USFWS said: “We’re pleased to have initiated the first of many efforts intended to end illegal sales of ivory in Hawaii and call upon all citizens of Hawaii as well as state and local governments, organizations and businesses to join us in that effort.”

Media Contact: Naseem Amini, namini@humanesociety.org, 240-778-5545