BANGOR, Maine — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that a fifth person had been charged in connection with a conspiracy to smuggle narwhal whale tusks into the U.S. from Canada.
Eddie Thomas Dunn, 59, of Eads, Tenn., waived indictment and pleaded guilty in December 2011 to charges in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, Alaska, but the case was sealed until last month. Dunn, who is to be sentenced in March, has been free on bail for more than two years.
Dunn pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to illegally sell wildlife and illegally selling wildlife. By pleading guilty, Dunn admitted that he and an unnamed co-conspirator paid Logan $126,000 for 135 tusks and resold them for $1.11 million in Alaska, Washington state, Ohio, Florida and Tennessee.
The announcement that Dunn had been charged was made in a DOJ press release about the conviction Friday of a New Jersey man in U.S. District Court in Maine for his role in conspiracy. Andrew J. Zarauskas, 60, of Union, N.J., was found guilty on one count each of conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States, conspiracy to launder money, smuggling goods into the U.S. and money laundering.
The jury of nine men and three women was out for three hours and 20 minutes before telling U.S. District Judge John Woodcock that it had reached a verdict in the trial that began Tuesday in federal court in Bangor.
Zarauskas was indicted in November 2012 by a federal grand jury with Jay Gus Conrad, 67, of Lakeland, Tenn.; Gregory Robert Logan, 56, and his wife, Nina Logan, 53, both of Woodmans Point, New Brunswick, and Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Gregory Logan, who is awaiting extradition from Canada, obtained the tusks in Canada and sold them on the Internet to Zarauskas, Conrad, Dunn and others, according to trial testimony. Logan then concealed them under his truck and in a hidden compartment in a trailer he pulled behind the truck and crossed the border without the required permits and paperwork.
The Canadian mailed the tusks to Zarauskas from FedEx in Bangor. Logan had buyers send payments to a post office box in Ellsworth and deposited the money in branches of Machias Savings Bank.
The payments allowed the Canadian supplier to purchase and resupply Zarauskus, Conrad and others with more narwhal tusks that they could then resell, according to the DOJ press release. Conrad sold between $400,000 and $1 million worth of narwhal tusks. Zarauskas sold an estimated 33 tusks for $70 an inch, twice the more than $85,000 he paid Logan for them, according to testimony.
Conrad pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to smuggle goods into the U.S., conspiracy to launder money and smuggling goods into the U.S. By pleading guilty, Conrad admitted that between November 2003 and sometime in 2008 he was part of a cross-border scheme that smuggled at least 100 narwhal whale tusks into the U.S. without the required marine mammal import permits.
It could not be determined from court documents filed in Maine and Alaska if Dunn’s co-conspirator was Conrad. The men’s hometowns are less than 10 miles from each other in suburban Memphis, Tenn.
Zarauskas, Conrad and the Logans, if convicted, each face up to 20 years in federal prison in the U.S. Each also could be fined $500,000 or twice the value of the money involved in the offense, whichever is greater.
Dunn, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges, faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and in coordination with Environmental Canada Wildlife Enforcement Division and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.