PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An Old City Philadelphia store owner has been sentenced to prison time for smuggling elephant ivory into the country.
According to officials, Victor Gordon acquired over 400 pieces of carved elephant ivory valued at around $800,000. On four occasions beginning in 2006, Gordon paid a smuggler to acquire the ivory directly from Africa and then secret it into the US through JFK International Airport in New York City (see previous story).
In some cases, Gordon stained the ivory and had the smugglers create fake receipts so that it looked like the ivory had been legally acquired prior to international and US laws imposed strict regulations on ivory imports.
Until a search of his store in 2009, Gordon reportedly sold tens of thousands of dollars of ivory to customers at his Philadelphia store. He was also attempting to sell his store and the ivory for a collective $20 million at the time of the search.
Today, Gordon was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 and forfeit $150,000 along with about a ton of elephant ivory that was seized by agents from his store (below) back in 2009.
“The illicit trade in elephant ivory has created an environmental crisis in Africa and is fueling the development of organized criminal groups around the world,” said United States Attorney Lynch in a release. “For this reason, the United States has committed itself, through international treaties and domestic law, to preventing the flow of illegal ivory through and within our borders. This prosecution – which resulted in the seizure and forfeiture of one of the largest known caches of illegal elephant ivory in the United States and the imprisonment of the person who acquired and attempted to profit from it – is emblematic of that commitment.”