US Seizes Ton of African Ivory From Art Dealer

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 8:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. officials have seized one ton of African elephant ivory from an art store owner in the eastern state of Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors say Victor Gordon smuggled the illegal ivory from west and central Africa.

They say Gordon paid a partner to buy and carve raw elephant ivory and then stain the pieces to make them appear antique.

The art store owner is accused of trying to circumvent a law that allows only ivory more than 100 years old to be imported.

The 68-year-old Gordon pleaded not guilty to smuggling charges Tuesday and was released on $1 million bond.

During a press conference in the city of Philadelphia Tuesday, authorities described the ivory haul as staggering and displayed dozens of the intricately carved tusks. Officials could not say how many elephants died in the alleged scheme.

Ivory trafficking is blamed for a declining elephant population throughout the African continent.