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Man convicted of federal crimes for smuggling narwhal tusks

North Carolina has a significant amount of shoreline. For many, the beach provides a scenic vista and hours of recreation. For others, though, the ocean may be the source of something far more nefarious: federal crime allegations. News reports out of North Carolina show that one East Coast man is facing potentially serious consequences after being convicted of smuggling narwhal tusks into the country. The defendant was convicted on six counts of smuggling, conspiracy and money laundering, among other allegations. He could spend decades in prison because of the conviction.

The defendant in this case, convicted by a federal jury in Maine, was accused of sneaking tusks into the country even though the animals are protected by both the U.S. and Canada. Narwhals are known as the "unicorns of the sea" because of their spiraling tusks that can reach a whopping 8 feet in length. These tusks are often valued at thousands of dollars, but Inuit hunters in the U.S. and Canada are the only population legally allowed to hunt the medium-sized whales.

Authorities say that the man received tusks that were illegally shipped into Maine through Canada. One other man, a Tennessee native, has also pleaded guilty in connection with the case. The group of alleged tusk traffickers were accused of ignoring U.S. law designed to protect critical ecological resources, according to representatives from environmental and natural resources groups.

This case illustrates the diversity of federal crimes that can be brought against North Carolina residents. Criminal defense attorneys may be able to provide additional information for people who are facing environmental federal crimes. These professionals may educate their clients about their legal options and rights, allowing them to make appropriate decisions about their criminal cases.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "NJ man convicted of smuggling narwhal tusks" No author given, Feb. 16, 2014

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