PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer is in U.S. custody awaiting trial on charges stemming from the smuggling of narwhal tusks.
Gregory Logan, 58, of St. John, New Brunswick, waived the right to a detention hearing Wednesday in Bangor after being extradited to face charges of money laundering after pleading guilty in Canada to smuggling narwhal tusks, prosecutors said.
U.S. prosecutors say Logan smuggled 250 tusks worth $2 million across the border into Maine in false compartments in his vehicle.
Narwhals are medium-sized whales known for spiral tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. They are protected by the U.S. and Canada. Their tusks, like elephant tusks, are valued for their use in carvings and jewelry-making.
"As this case shows, wildlife trafficking can involve millions in illegal transactions, compounding the damage it does to the wealth and diversity of life on our planet," Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in a statement from Washington, D.C.
Logan was charged along with two U.S. residents. Andrew Zarauskas of Union, New Jersey, was convicted and sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in the smuggling operation. Jay Conrad of Lakeland, Tennessee, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
According to the indictment, Logan was working as a Canadian Mountie when he began bringing narwhal tusks across the border into the U.S. in 2000.
Logan, who retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2003, served four months of home detention and paid a $350,000 fine in Canada, U.S. officials said.
Under extradition terms, U.S. prosecutors dropped the smuggling charges and are pursuing money laundering charges from his transfer of money to Canada after selling the tusks in the U.S.
Court documents don't indicate whether Logan has retained a lawyer.
If convicted of money laundering, he would face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000, prosecutors said.
A headline on this story has been corrected to show the defendant is a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer, not currently a Mountie.
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