Federal authorities have seized one ton of African elephant ivory from the owner of a store in Old City who is charged with illegally importing and selling the precious specimen.
Victor Gordon, 68, is accused of hiring someone to travel to Africa and smuggle the ivory into the country through John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and selling it in his African art store on North Third Street. Gordon was scheduled to make an initial court appearance today before a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Gordon, authorities claim, provided the smuggler with pictures of the carvings and directed them to dye the ivory so that it would look old to prevent detection. The government alleges the conspiracy took place from May 2006 until about April 2009.
"The amount of the elephant ivory allegedly plundered in this case is staggering and highlights the seriousness of the charged crimes," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release. "We all have a responsibility to protect endangered species, both for their sake and for the sake of our own future generations."
If convicted, Gordon faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.