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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Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Good! Shame his sentence wasn't longer.

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

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

Michele Wilkinson

Not long enough!

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

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

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom5 years ago

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

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U6 years ago

Fine !

Nancy Black
Nancy Black6 years ago

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.

Nicole Weber
Nicole W6 years ago

Needs a harsher punishment!!!

Alessandra C.

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

Marleen Paulus
Marleen Paulus6 years ago

Good they caught them. The sooner the better