VIDEO: Philly Art Dealer Busted With Largest Ever Ivory Cache in the US

On 26 July 2011, several news outlets reported that Victor Gordon, a Philadelphia African art-store owner, was arrested by federal agents and charged with the illegal importation and sale of African elephant ivory. Agents seized about one ton of ivory -- more than 2,000 pounds! -- the largest seizure ever in the USA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare applauds the US Fish and Wildlife agents who busted this guy.

Video source: NBC Philadelphia: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com.

Authorities said Gordon paid a co-conspirator to buy raw elephant ivory in Africa and have it carved to his specifications. Gordon then financed the importation of the ivory from Africa to the USA and sold the carvings in his Philadelphia store. The smuggling took place from May 2006 to April 2009, according to news reports.

Elephants are protected from over-exploitation by the United Nations Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The African elephant is also listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It has been illegal to sell, buy, or import most African ivory in the USA since 1989, unless the piece can be proven to be a pre-ban artifact.

But the illegal trade in ivory continues and is a major threat to elephants, especially in West and Central Africa, where the ivory in this investigation originated.

And West and Central Africa are just two areas where IFAW has been training and equipping anti-poaching wildlife rangers to help protect elephants where they live. For years, we've also been partnering with governments in Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, India and elsewhere to protect critical elephant habitat by providing vehicles, fuel, equipment and training to park rangers.

Besides protecting elephants and their habitats, IFAW tackles the problems of the international ivory trade by training customs agents and wildlife law enforcement officers to more effectively stop ivory smuggling. We've trained more than 1,200 officials in dozens of countries since 2006.

Investigations we've conducted into the illegal trade in ivory and other wildlife products on the Internet have led to some positive changes in the behavior of online marketplaces and turned the legislative and regulatory spotlight on this new and growing pipeline for illegal trade. At the same time, we've mounted consumer education campaigns to reduce the demand for ivory in China, Europe and elsewhere.

The combination of these activities -- helping range states better protect elephants, improving wildlife law enforcement nationally and internationally, and reducing ivory demand in end-market countries -- is an effective long-range solution to the elephant poaching crisis.

But, in the meantime, there is no substitute for the excellent police work carried out by the US Fish and Wildlife agents who brought down this smuggler.

## James Kinney

For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit www.ifaw.org

Comments: 4

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

[...] On July 26th US Fish and Wildlife Officers made their biggest-ever bust in Philadelphia of over 2000 pounds of iv.... [...]

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

MASSIVE ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE ON EBAY MAKES PHILLY BUST A DROP IN THE BUCKET...a multitude of illegal sales of ivory objects on eBay at any given moment is a flagrant violation of eBay stated policy and federal laws. Here is how this scam works...after the so called ban in 2008 of almost all ivory items sold on eBay sellers starting using code words as key words to get the attention of the ivory buyers. The most common being "ox bone". Sellers knew ivory buyers would quickly see that the listed items were obviously ivory from the fine grained composition and uniform color. Ox bone, on the other hand, is usually shard-like with pronounced color variation. Ox bone was never used in Japan or China for fine carving. Since eBay turned a blind eye to this seller scam, it has essentially gone viral. Right now there are at least 5000 ox bone listings...most being illegal ivory objects. I have continually made reports of these illegal sales on eBay with most auctions NOT being stopped. THIS IS A SHAME AND MUST BE STOPPED. A press release from IFAW stated they would monitor eBay on this issue...THIS IS NOT HAPPENING...We now have a major U.S. corporation facilitating a multi million dollar trade in illegal ivory objects. Please help me stop this as soon as possible. I welcome your comments. Thank you.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Way to go...excellent.....best news ever!!!!

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

*** An ideal retribution = small figurines modelled fom the ivory dealers / poachers teeth !! ***

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
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IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia