US tusk smuggling operation cracked

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The Independent Online

A tonne of elephant tusks worth about $1m (£600,000) has been found in one of the largest ivory seizures in the US, and the owner of an African art store has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling them into the country.

Victor Gordon is suspected of having paid an accomplice to buy elephant ivory in west and central Africa, to carve items and to stain them to make them look older. He has denied conspiracy and smuggling.

Hundreds of tusks were seized from properties in New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Kansas. "The amount of the elephant ivory allegedly plundered in this case is staggering and highlights the seriousness of the charged crimes," said Loretta Lynch, a district attorney in New York.

The ivory trade has devastated elephant numbers in Africa. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population has fallen to 12,000- 15,000, from 400,000 30 years ago.