Two midtown Manhattan jewelers, Raja Jewels and New York Jewelry Mart, both pleaded guilty to illegal commercialization of wildlife for selling illegal elephant ivory with a retail value of more than $2 million.
Both companies must forfeit the elephant ivory. Raja Jewels owner Mukesh Gupta must also pay a $45,000 fine, which will be donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Johnson Jung-Chien Lu, owner of New York Jewelry Mart, must donate $10,000.
The New York State Environmental Conservation Law states that it is illegal to sell, offer for sale, or possess with intent to sell articles made from endangered or threatened wildlife species unless the seller has a license or permit for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“Poachers should not have a market in Manhattan,” said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in a statement. “It is unacceptable that tusks from elephants wind up being sold as mass-produced jewelry and unremarkable decorative items in this city.”