Charges have been brought against a New Jersey man for allegedly smuggling and trying to sell the tusks of narwhal whales.
The Associated Press reports that federal Environment and Natural Resources Division officials have charged Andrew L. Zarauskas with conspiracy and money laundering. Zarauskas, 59, was arrested Friday at his Union, New Jersey home. His charges stem from what prosecutors cite as his alleged attempt to sell illegally imported tusks.
An article in The Bangor Daily News writes that along with the New Jersey man, three other individuals are connected to the plot. Prosecutors allege that Zarauskas, Tennessee resident Jay Gus Conrad, and two Canadians conspired to smuggle the narwhal tusks into the United States through the Milltown Port of Entry in Calais.
All parties were indicted last month by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to import merchandise, conspiracy to launder money, and smuggling goods. The defendants’ first court appearances have not been scheduled and it’s not clear if any of the men have retained legal representation. Each suspect could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Known for their unusually long tusk, narwhals are medium-sized toothed members of the whale family. Comparable in size to the beluga whale, they are native to the Arctic and can have a lifespan of as much as 50 years. They are currently protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Are animal rights important to you? What do you think should happen to the New Jersey man charged with smuggling narwhal tusks if found guilty?