SAN FRANCISCO—After a statewide investigation, two San Francisco businesses are facing criminal charges for selling and illegally trafficking ivory.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife worked on three separate investigations from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and discovered two undisclosed local businesses with significant violations, according to the CDFW.

“Under Governor Brown’s leadership, laws to combat illegal wildlife trafficking have been substantially strengthened,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division.

Wildlife officers seized numerous pieces of illegal goods including a solid bone pagoda and rhinoceros’ horn at one location.

At the second location, officials found 18 statuettes ranging from 15 to 26 inches containing suspected pieces of ivory and 37 statuettes ranging in size from one-half inch to six inches suspected to be made entirely from ivory, according to the CDFW.

A figureine seized during a statewide bust dealing with the illegal trafficking of ivory.
A figurine seized during a statewide bust dealing with the illegal trafficking of ivory.

The CDFW also found whale teeth, two ivory chess sets, and two carved tusk labeled as mammoth ivory.

The dollar amount of the items confiscated during the bust in San Francisco is estimated well over $500,000.

No arrests has been made, but criminal charges will be recommended to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors will determine whether charges should be filed. Those in violation could face up to a year in jail and $50,000 in fines.

Selling ivory and other elephant parts has been illegal in the state of California since 1977. Merchants were able to sell items that were imported before 1977, until a new law was passed in July 2016 banning all sales on raw, worked and powdered ivory from a store or a private collection.

The statewide investigation seized and intercepted 377 items of jewelry at an air cargo terminal in Los Angeles. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife also intercepted a shipment of three boxes from Indonesia containing 116 items that included purses and wallets, made from python skin in Alameda County.

“This effort by our wildlife officers demonstrates that the black market trafficking of wildlife in California will not be tolerated. We stand ready beside our federal and state partners, as well as District Attorneys across the state to take these poachers and traffickers out of business,” said Bess.