An illegal narwhal smuggling ring has been busted by US and Canadian officials in Maine,reported the Associated Press, ending a wildlife trafficking operation that had lasted for a decade.
Two Canadian accomplices smuggled the ivory, which was purchased legally in Canada, into Bangor, Maine inside of a secret trailer compartment, and then shipped them to American agents via FedEx, who sold them to buyers for thousands of dollars each, said the AP.
The National Post reports that the two Americans indicted in the case could face fines upwards of $250,000, and 20 years in prison.
Narwhals are listed as "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and as animals of "Special Concern" by the Canadian government.
It has been illegal to import narwhal ivory into the US since 1972, when the species was first protected, although it is possible to buy ivoryimported before the ban online.