BANGOR, Maine — A New Jersey man accused of smuggling narwhal tusks into the United States has been convicted of federal crimes, several of which carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors say a federal jury in Maine convicted Andrew Zarauskas of Union, N.J., on six counts for his role in a smuggling ring. He was released on $25,000 bond, pending sentencing.
Narwhals, which are medium-sized whales, are known as the unicorns of the sea for their spiral tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. They are protected by the U.S. and Canada.
The tusks can sell for thousands of dollars, but it’s illegal to import them into the U.S. In Canada, Inuit hunters are the only ones allowed to harvest the animals for meat, skin and tusks.