Washington State Man Pleads Guilty to Ivory Trafficking

A resident of Ridgefield, Clark County, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to violating the Lacey Act by trafficking in sperm whale ivory, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. TIM DAVIS, 55, admitted to participating in at least 74 transactions involving the purchase and sale of whale, elephant and walrus ivory between May 2006 and June 2015. The Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibit unlawful purchases and sales of these products. DAVIS will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan on July 13, 2017.

“By buying and selling ivory products, this defendant was providing a marketplace for those who are hunting animals such as elephants and whales to extinction,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “I commend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for working diligently to stamp out this kind of trafficking. The laws we have enforced in this case are essential to preserving the kind of healthy planet we all want to leave to future generations.”

“We commend the Department of Justice and all other agencies that played a role in aiding this investigation and prosecution,” said Edward Grace, Deputy Assistant Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. “The illegal wildlife trade is a $20 billion industry that is rapidly driving elephants and many other animals to extinction. The Service will continue to use every tool at its disposal to fight the trafficking scourge and the shameful individuals who are depriving our planet of these magnificent creatures for their own profit.”

According to the plea agreement, DAVIS advertised on internet sites such as Etsy, EBay and Craigslist, offering to purchase and sell various ivory products. DAVIS sold ivory to buyers outside the U.S., particularly in Asia. To conceal his international transactions, DAVIS fraudulently labeled the ivory packages, stating that they contained “oxbone” products, when in fact, they contained ivory.

Between 2012 and 2015, DAVIS participated in a series of ivory transactions with an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent. For example, DAVIS sold the agent a collection of sperm whale teeth for $2,000 in May 2015. In June 2015, DAVIS purchased four walrus tusks from the agent.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a probationary sentence with as much as six months of home detention. DAVIS will also forfeit his unlawfully acquired ivory products.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson.