(Reuters) – A retried Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was sentenced on Wednesday by a U.S. judge to five years and two months in prison, after pleading guilty to 10 money laundering charges related to a scheme to smuggle Arctic narwhal tusks.
Gregory Logan, 59, of Saint John, New Brunswick, had been accused by U.S. prosecutors of smuggling more than 250 tusks from 2000 to 2010 into the United States from Canada, in a scheme to sell tusks to collectors and send proceeds back to Canada. The tusks were worth as much as $3 million.
“Unlawful wildlife trade like this undermines efforts by federal, state, and foreign governments to protect and restore populations of species like the narwhal, a majestic creature of the sea,” acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Wood said in a statement.
Kaylee Folster, a lawyer for Logan, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Narwhals are a species of whale that live mainly in Arctic waters, and have large, protruding ivory tusks. Male narwhals can rub their tusks together as a means to communicate.
It is illegal to import narwhals, or parts of narwhals, into the United States for commercial purposes.
Logan, who retired as a Canadian mountie in 2003, had been a target of a narwhal tusk-smuggling probe, dubbed “Operation Longtooth,” by a Canadian government agency now known as Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The defendant was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Woodcock in Bangor, Maine.
According to court papers, prosecutors sought a more than seven-year prison term, while Logan sought credit for time served.
Logan had been indicted in the United States on money laundering, smuggling and conspiracy charges in November 2012.
He was extradited to the United States in March 2016, under an agreement limiting the case there to the money laundering offenses. Logan pleaded guilty six months later.
In 2013, Logan pleaded guilty in Canada to a related wildlife smuggling crime.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker