|African elephant in the Serengeti|
An owner of a pool cue company in Florida has been charged with selling cue-sticks weighted with African elephant ivory. Joseph Barringer, a resident of New Smyrna Beach, owned a company called Cue Components which manufactures and sells custom cue sticks and parts. Barringer's brush with the law began five years ago when the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service came upon his company's website and saw ferrules, joint collars, butt caps, and inlays made of ivory. Although buying and selling of African elephant ivory has been banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the organization had made exceptions in which only the tusks from elephants dead naturally can be manufactured and sold. In addition to that, pre-ban and antique ivory are accepted under the U.S law.
After seeing Cue Components's website, federal authorities decided to monitor the company closely. During the process, Barringer had placed a "genuine elephant ivory" up for bid on eBay. At that point, an undercover agent from the Scotland Yard placed his bid. The agent ended up with several ivory cue sticks shipped to England. In December 2007, Cue Components was met with a warrant by federal agents who uncovered 197 pounds of ivory pieces and 24 elephant tusks in Barringer's house. However, they did not have any proof that the ivory was illegally smuggled into the U.S. The government made a plea bargain with Barringer, who recently pleaded guilty for illegally exporting ivory cue sticks. He is now faced with a sentence of one year in jail, a year with supervised release, and a $100,000 or twice the gross gain accumulating from the crime.
This article gives a clear representation of how a U.S-based organization dedicated in battling the illegal trade of wildlife maintains excellent contact with other law enforcement overseas. In this case, it was with the U.K law enforcement which led to a "buyer" from England bringing a good amount of evidence to the authority. This later resulted in U.S federal agents seizing several overwhelming pounds of illegally sold ivory, and a bonus of 1,841 Cuban cigars which are only imported illegally into the U.S. Even though the authorities had no proof whether the ivory in Barringer's possession was smuggled illegally into the country, he is now clearly behind the eight ball.
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