A California man was sentenced to 27 months in prison followed by three years of probation for the sale of two black rhinoceros horns, the Department of Justice said.
Edward N. Levine, 67, of Novato , California, will also be barred from wildlife and antique sales as part of the sentence, prosecutors announced Friday.
Levine and his co-defendant Lumsden Quan sold the horns to an undercover agent posing as a taxidermist for $55,000 in a Las Vegas hotel room.
The arrest was part of “Operation Crash”, a joint effort between the Justice Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prosecute individuals involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns. As of October 2017, Operation Crash has resulted in the prosecution and sentencing of nearly 50 defendants and recovered roughly $7.8 million in fines, forfeiture and restitution. Levine is the only Operation Crash target to proceed to trial, the Justice Department said.
Levine had faced a maximum of five years in prison for violating federal law.
“Complex international investigations such as Operation Crash have demonstrated the link between wildlife trafficking and criminal organizations also involved in other serious transnational organized crimes including trafficking of illegal firearms and drugs,” said acting Chief of Law Enforcement Edward Grace for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The black rhinoceros is a native to Africa and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horns has also been regulated under a treaty signed by over 183 countries.
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