A retired Canadian Mounted Police officer has been sentenced 62 months imprisonment by a U.S. District Court for money laundering offenses connected to the illegal import of hundreds of narwhal whale tusks into the United States with a street value totalling millions of dollars.
Special agents from the US Environment and Natural Resources Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from Environment and Climate Change Canada joined together to investigate the complex scheme where illegal narwhal tusks were trafficked across the US border with Canada over many years.
Ex Mountie Gregory Logan, 60, smuggled around 300 tusks valued at US$1.5 million to US$3 million into Maine (US) in false compartments in his car. He then sent them onto customers throughout the US. Logan also provided false documentation claiming that the tusks had originally belonged to a private collector in Maine who had acquired them legally.
Narwhals are medium-sized toothed whales that are native to the Arctic. They are known for their distinctive ivory tusk, which can grow to more than eight feet in length and are valued for their use in carvings and jewellery making. Most are shot by hunters from motor boats.
Given the threats to their population, narwhals are protected 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. It is illegal to import narwhals, or their parts, into the United States for commercial purposes. Any importation must be accompanied by a permit and must be declared to the official authorities.
We have big concerns about the Narwhal hunts in Canada and Greenland – both regarding animal welfare and sustainability. What needs to happen is awarding the Narwhal the highest level of protection under CITES, moving them from Appendix II to I, in order to prohibit all forms of trade.