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