Guilty plea in ivory smuggling case in Hawaii reinforces need for legislation

Early this week, Curtis Wilmington, the owner of the Oahu gifts retailer Hawaiian Accessories, Inc. pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle coral into the country and ivory into and out of the country.

Wilmington’s actions and admission reinforce the findings of our recent investigation, which shows a thriving trade in wildlife in Hawaii. If left unregulated, Hawaii could become the largest ivory market in the U.S.

The admission also reinforces something that IFAW has found time and time again in our investigations into the wildlife trade: that legal wildlife trade creates the perfect cover for people like Curtis Wilmington to smuggle and sell illegal wildlife products with impunity.

Something needs to be done to stop it. And we’re getting close.

As we’ve mentioned, a legislative proposal in Hawaii seeks to safeguard wildlife by preventing the trade of their parts and products in the state. We were in Hawaii last week, along with a slew of celebrity advocates, to generate support for SB2647 and HB2502—which passed out of the House Chamber this week with only one Representative opposing it, and 50 supporting it!

Wilmington may have been caught, but there are many other bad actors still out there. This legislation is crucial to ensuring that we stop the illegal wildlife trade in Hawaii. 


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy