By Jeff Miller
Manhattan-based jewelry wholesaler Stonex Corporation pleaded guilty to one count of felony illegal commercialization of wildlife and its owner, Shashikumar Krishnaswamy, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor-level offense of illegal commercialization of wildlife. As part of the plea deal, Stonex will forfeit more than 70 pounds of elephant ivory that were seized in 2012. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said the retail value of the ivory was more than $30,000. Stonex will donate $10,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Society for use in elephant conservation programs worldwide.''
As this case and others show, New York City is still a major market in the country for the illegal wildlife trade," said Martens. "New York has zero tolerance for those who would profit from the sale of endangered and threatened species. Many species around the world are teetering on the brink of extinction due to poaching to supply the illegal wildlife trade, especially elephants. We are committed to stopping the illegal ivory trade in New York. I would like to thank our partners on this joint investigation; the Office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
Two other New York Diamond District-based companies, Raja Jewels Inc. and New York Jewelry Mart Corporation, pleaded guilty in 2012 for their roles in the illegal sale of elephant ivory. The Raja Jewels case resulted in the largest seizure of elephant ivory for a state case in New York's history. Together, the amount of ivory seized from the three Diamond District businesses amounted to nearly a ton, with an estimated retail value of more than $2 million.
Under the New York State Environmental Conservation Law, it is illegal for anyone to sell or possess with intent to sell any articles made from endangered or threatened species of wildlife, such as the elephant, unless the seller has been granted a license to do so. Only then, licensees may sell articles, such as ivory, if they possessed the items prior to the species being listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). All elephants are protected as either endangered or threatened species, and the sale of any articles made from an elephant is prohibited without a license from the Department of Environmental Conservation. More....