Former Canadian Mountie Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charges Stemming from a Conspiracy to Smuggle Narwhal Tusks
A retired officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently pleaded guilty to 10 money laundering offenses in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. Gregory R. Logan, 59, of St. John, New Brunswick, was extradited to the United States on March 11. Logan, who has been detained since his extradition, will remain in jail pending his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. for the District of Maine in Bangor, Maine.
Logan was indicted in the District of Maine in November 2012 and charged with conspiracy, smuggling and money laundering. All of the counts arose from Logan’s scheme to smuggle narwhal tusks from Canada to the United States for sale to American customers and transfer the proceeds of those sales back to Canada. Logan was arrested in Canada, based on a request from the United States, in December 2013. Logan pleaded guilty to a related wildlife smuggling crime in Canada and the terms of his extradition limited the case against him in the United States to the money laundering offenses. Also charged in the original indictment was Andrew J. Zarauskas of Union, New Jersey. Zarauskas was convicted after a jury trial in Bangor and sentenced to 33 months in prison.
Narwhals are medium-sized toothed whales that are native to the Arctic. They are known for their distinctive ivory tusk which can grow to more than eight feet in length. Given the threats to their population, narwhals are protected domestically by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and internationally by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – an international treaty to which more than 170 countries, including the United States and Canada, are parties. It is illegal to import narwhals, or their parts, into the United States for commercial purposes. Further, any importation must be accompanied by a permit and must be declared to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to the indictment, Logan smuggled more than 250 narwhal tusks into the United States between 2000 and 2010. As part of the plea agreement, Logan agreed that the market value of the narwhal tusks in this case was between $1.5 million and $3 million. Knowing that the tusks were illegal to bring into the United States and sell, Logan transported them across the border in false compartments in his vehicle and trailer. Logan utilized a shipping store in Ellsworth, Maine, to send the tusks to customers throughout the United States, including Zarauskas and others. Logan knew that his customers would re-sell the tusks for a profit and in an attempt to increase that re-sale price, Logan would occasionally provide fraudulent documentation claiming that the tusks had originally belonged to a private collector in Maine who had acquired them legally.
In addition to shipping the tusks from Maine, Logan maintained a post office box the Ellsworth shipping store as well as an account at a bank in Bangor. Logan instructed his customers to send payment in the form of checks to the post office box, or wire money directly to his Maine bank account. Logan then transported the money to Canada by having the shipping store forward his mail to him in Canada, and by using an ATM card to withdraw money from his Maine bank account at Canadian ATM machines. At times, Logan also directed his customers to send funds directly to him in Canada.
Logan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $500,000 fine, per count of conviction. The case was investigated by special agents of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement; and Wildlife Officers from Environment and Climate Change Canada. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James B. Nelson and Lauren D. Steele.