Man convicted of smuggling narwhal tusks from Canada to United States

Updated Oct. 3, 2013 at 9:14 AM
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ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A Canadian court has imposed a record fine on a man convicted of conspiring to smuggle narwhal tusks into Maine for distribution to U.S. buyers.

Environment Canada said Gregory Logan of Grande Prairie, Alberta, was arrested as a result of Operation Longtooth, a two-year investigation into tusk smuggling, the Nunatsiaq News reported. Logan was convicted Tuesday, fined $385,000 Canadian ($373,000 U.S.) and sentenced to seven months community service, including four months under house arrest.

Narwhal tusks can be sold legally in Canada with proper permits. But the United States only allows the tusks to be imported if they are at least 100 years old and requires a permit.

Canadian Inuit -- the people once known as Eskimos -- can hunt narwhal legally.

Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the first Inuit to serve in the Canadian Cabinet, welcomed the conviction and the large fine.

"We are part of a hunting culture and it's an important part of our diet," Aglukkaq said. "We captured them legally, we sold them legally, but there are individuals who sold these products illegally."

Investigators say Logan smuggled the tusks from New Brunswick into Maine using a trailer with a false bottom. The tusks were then shipped to U.S. buyers by regular delivery services.

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