Big wildlife trafficking busts in Alaska and Oregon

Big wildlife trafficking busts in Alaska and Oregon

Savoonga : AK : USA | Jul 16, 2011 at 9:03 AM PDT
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Wildlife experts say Thailand is a commonly-used transit point for the illegal trafficking of animal parts


Three men from Alaska have been arrested for trafficking thousands of pounds of walrus tusks and animal parts in trade for marijuana, cigarettes, guns, snowmobiles, and cash, according to prosecutors.

This has been touted as Alaska's biggest case of illegal trafficking of wildlife contraband in many years according to Yvonne Lamoureux, an assistant U.S. attorney.

Since all three initially went for the not guilty plea, all sorts of deals were offered including an unusual request for marriage before being sent away by Leboeuf and Sternbach.

First, Jesse Leboeuf, admitted to only five of the 15 counts against him which included weapons charges as well as the wildlife-trafficking offenses.

Next, Richard Weshenfelder of Anchorage admitted to internet sales and conspiracy to violating a federal statute that protects wildlife called the Lacey Act.

Finally, Loretta Sternbach is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, according to BBC News.

Court records were opened on Wednesday and revealed that it all began last summer for the animal parts from Savoonga, Yupik Eskimo village on a Bering Strait island.

The investigation took nine months to complete. Whale baleen, teeth, and polar bear hides, with a whopping 1,000 pounds of raw ivory which could have come from over 100 walruses were the items seized.


Meanwhile in Oregon, state police arrested six men and three women for racketeering in connection with an alleged wildlife poaching operation which included illegally shooting over 300 deer in central Oregon.

Over 1,600 pounds of game meat, 18 rifles and 108 sets of antlers were seized in that bust, said state police.

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Walrus tusks
Walrus and baby and confiscated walrus tusks.
Stephanie Ealy is based in Tacoma, Washington, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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