(CN) – A Canadian antiques dealer pleaded guilty to charges he attempted to smuggle two black rhinoceros horns from New York to British Columbia, where he intended to sell them.
Xiao Ju Guan, also known as Tony Guan, entered his plea in the federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday.
“I knew I was violating the law,” Guan said during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.
Guan is the owner of an antiques business in Richmond, British Columbia, and admitted to smuggling more than $400,000 worth of rhino horns and sculptures made from elephant ivory to Canada.
According to prosecutors, Guan bought the rhinoceros horns that led to his arrest from undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents on March 29, 2014, during a sting operation carried out in the Bronx, N.Y.
Prosecutors say after taking custody of the horns, Guan and a female accomplice acting as his interpreter, where taken to a nearby express mail store, where he mailed the horns to an address in Point Roberts, Washington, a community located less than a mile from the Canadian border, and less than 20 miles from his store.
All species of rhinoceros are protected under U.S. and international law, and the international trade in rhino horns and elephant ivory has been heavily regulated for decades.
Following his plea Guan remained in federal custody. He is scheduled to be sentenced in the spring.The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. However, the pleas agreement between Guan and federal prosecutors suggests a sentence of between two-and-a-half years and four years.
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