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Man Gets Prison Time for Smuggling Whale Parts

Man Gets Prison Time for Smuggling Whale Parts

A Massachusetts man named David Place was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for smuggling up to $400,000 worth of narwhal tusks and sperm whale teeth from the Ukraine.

Narwhals are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. They are considered one of the mammals most threatened by climate change because they occupy a narrow range of Arctic habitat and probably can’t live anywhere else if their waters warm too much. They actually may be more impacted by climate change than polar bears. Sperm whales were listed in the United States as an endangered species in 1970. They were once widespread but centuries of commercial whaling caused severe losses. Since 1800 as many as 1,000,000 sperm whales may have been taken by whalers. They are also protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Place’s Ukrainian partner was charged previously and plead guilty. After serving a nine month prison term he was deported to his home country. Both men made thousands of dollars selling the whale parts. It has been alleged some of the sales were to a Massachusetts scrimshaw artist, Charles Manghis. Manghis was also convicted of smuggling whale teeth and elephant ivory. Place could have been sentenced to a maximum 20 years for the smuggling charges.

U.S. Attorney Pirrozolo said, “Unfortunately the United States is a significant marketplace for the exploitation of illegal wildlife. It is important that we take every step to eliminate the illegal commercial trade in these endangered and protected species. This is a fine example of multi-agency cooperation focused on the reduction and elimination of this illegal trafficking.” (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)

NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement all cooperated on the investigation. Local police were also involved.

Image via Wiki Commons

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3:58AM PDT on Aug 10, 2012

Good! Shame his sentence wasn't longer.

12:50PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

He should get more than that, like the loss of his body parts!

4:19AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

Not long enough!

5:36PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

33 months? Should have been, at least, 33 years, IMO--when are we going to get serious about the slaughter of our animals?

7:37AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

I hope laws get tougher and tougher for smugglers of endangered animal parts and ivory!

3:29PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Fine !

6:21AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

The only way to stop such outrages is to give severe punishment. If those who participate in such environmental horrors know they will pay harsh consequences for their actions, they might think twice. Every time this happens and someone is put in prison, there should be lots of publicity so everyone would know what he/she is risking when they break the environmental laws.

5:04PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

Needs a harsher punishment!!!

6:09AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

33 monts jail? Too little. Exemplary punishment is good to prevent others from doing the same thing. 33 months jail is the minimum.

10:30AM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

Good they caught them. The sooner the better

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