Native to the Arctic, the medium-sized toothed whales called narwhals are known for their distinctive ivory tusk, which can grow more than 8-feet long.
Federal prosecutors indicted Gregory Logan, 59, of St. John, New Brunswick, back in November 2012 on charges that he smuggled more than 250 narwhal tusks into the United States between 2000 and 2010.
“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,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood said in a statement.
After Logan was indicted in the District of Maine, it took 13 months for authorities to arrest the onetime Mountie in Canada.
He ultimately pleaded guilty in Canada to a related wildlife-smuggling crime, and the terms of his 2016 extradition to the United States limited the case against him here to charges of money laundering.
As part of his U.S. plea agreement last year, Logan agreed that the narwhal tusks he smuggled were worth 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,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
The government also notes that Logan occasionally provided fraudulent documentation to make the tusks seem as though they were acquired legally by a private collector in Maine.
Sometimes Logan had his customers send payment for the tusks directly to him in Canada, according to materials from the Justice Department, but most customers sent checks to a post office box Logan maintained at a shipping store in Ellsworth, Maine, or they wired money directly to his bank account in Bangor, Maine.
Prosecutors say the shipping store was under instructions to forward Logan’s mail to him in Canada, and that Logan also used an ATM card to withdraw money from his Maine bank account at Canadian machines.
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Logan on Wednesday to 62 months in prison for 10 counts of money laundering.
Andrew J. Zarauskas, a Union, New Jersey, man charged alongside Logan as a co-conspirator, was convicted after a jury trial in Bangor and sentenced to 33 months in prison.
“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,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “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.