|New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka announced that four Hudson antique store owners were charged with felonies Tuesday in connection with the illegal sale of ivory.
"The illegal ivory trade is an international issue and our state remains vigilant in pursuing this immoral industry that is killing elephants at a rate of 96 animals per day," DEC Commissioner Seggos said. "Restricting the market for the ivory trade and pursuing those who peddle these so-called pieces of art will help bring an end to the slaughter of elephants and sends a clear message that we will not allow this criminal activity to continue in New York."
Acting on a tip and supporting an ongoing, statewide effort to combat the illegal sale of endangered and threatened species products in New York, investigators with DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) began an undercover investigation a month ago into the illegal sale of elephant ivory and other wildlife products in the city of Hudson. Investigators identified four retailers illegally selling products made from endangered and/or threatened species.
On June 1, ECOs and special agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service executed search warrants at Kazarian Antiques, of 602 Warren St., NAGA Antiques, of 536 Warren St., White Whale Limited, of 410 Warren St., and The Warehouse, of 99 3rd Street.
In total, nearly 100 illegal items were recovered during the search, with the total retail market value of the pieces exceeding $15,000. Items seized included carvings made from elephant ivory, an article made from elephant hide, a saw tooth fish rostrum, a crocodilian head, and a large sea turtle carapace.
Richard Kazarian, Jim Marinaccio, Joseph Ribar and Lauren Guion were arraigned Tuesday before Hudson City Judge John Conner and charged with E felony level illegal commercialization of wildlife.
"Like conservationists everywhere, we are very grateful to the diligent DEC investigators for battling the unlawful trafficking of endangered species," DA Czajka said.
It is illegal to sell or attempt to sell products made in whole, or in part, from endangered and/or threatened species in the State of New York without obtaining a license to do so by the DEC. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced and signed a new law in 2014 that banned the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhinoceros horns and strengthened the criminal and civil penalties for buyers and sellers whose actions are endangering elephant and rhinoceros populations worldwide. With a DEC permit, the law allows for limited exceptions on products, such as antiques demonstrated to be at least 100 years old and those that contain less than 20 percent of ivory.
If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).