New Brunswick

Retired Mountie who smuggled narwhal tusks headed to U.S. prison

A retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer accused of smuggling narwhal tusks has been sentenced to five years and two months in U.S. prison.

Prosecutors say Gregory Logan of Saint John smuggled 250 tusks worth up to $3M

An ex-Mountie from Saint John who authorities say smuggled narwhal tusks into the U.S. pleaded guilty Wednesday in Maine to money-laundering under an agreement in which the smuggling charges were dropped. (Paul Nicklen/Getty Images)

A retired Mountie accused of smuggling narwhal tusks was sentenced Wednesday to five years and two months in a U.S. prison for related money-laundering counts.

Gregory Logan, 60, of Saint John smuggled about 300 tusks valued at $1.5 million US to $3 million US into Maine in false compartments in his vehicle, U.S. prosecutors said. They were shipped from a post office box in Ellsworth, Maine, to buyers across the U.S.

Narwhals, protected in the United States and Canada, are known for their spiral tusks that can grow longer than eight feet and are valued for their use in carvings and jewelry-making.

According to the indictment, Logan was working as a Mountie when he began bringing narwhal tusks across the border into the U.S. in 2000. He retired from the police force in 2003.

Smuggling charges dropped

Prosecutors said he asked his U.S. co-conspirators what they wanted in terms of size and quantity, and then contacted "Inuit co-operatives" in the North for the tusks.

"Unlawful wildlife trade like this undermines efforts by federal, state, and foreign governments to protect and restore populations of species like the narwhal, a majestic creature of the sea," said acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Logan was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock on money-laundering and conspiracy counts to which he pleaded guilty under an agreement in which smuggling charges were dropped.

He has already served four months of home detention and paid a $350,000 fine in Canada after pleading guilty to a related wildlife-smuggling crime.

Logan the 'organizer'

Logan was charged along with two U.S. residents. Andrew Zarauskas, of Union, N.J., was convicted and sentenced to 33 months. Charges against a Tennessee man were dismissed.

Prosecutors said Logan was the "organizer of this enterprise."

"He directed and organized the way in which the tusks were smuggled and shipped as well as the ways in which the proceeds would ultimately be laundered into Canada. In sum, (Logan) was the 'hub' without whom the 'spokes' could not have succeeded in their joint criminal enterprise," they said in court documents.

Logan has spent 18 months in custody in the U.S after being extradited from Canada in March 2016. The extradition agreement with Canada limited the charges to the money-laundering counts.

How the scheme worked

A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice detailed how the scheme worked:

"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," it said.

"In addition to shipping the tusks from Maine, Logan maintained a post office box in 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 cheques 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."