A Philadelphia African art dealer was arrested Tuesday by federal agents and charged with the illegal importation and sale of African elephant ivory.
A staggering one ton of ivory was seized by federal agents, officials said, making it one of the largest U.S. seizures ever of illegally imported ivory.
Victor Gordon, 68, worked with a co-conspirator who traveled to Africa to secure raw elephant ivory. Gordon sent images of ivory carvings over for African carvers to create historic-looking designs and then had the pieces stained or dyed to appear old.
Between 2006 and 2009, Gordon organized the illegal importation through New York's JFK International Airport and sold the carvings to customers at his Victor Gordon Enterprises store on North 3rd Street in Philadelphia's Old City.
Nearly 460 ivory tusks and carvings were seized in 2009 and 2010, the indictment said.
"The amount of elephant ivory allegedly plundered in this case is staggering and highlights the seriousness of the charged crimes,' said Loretta E. Lynch, the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, where Gordon was arraigned.
“We all have a responsibility to protect endangered species, both for their sake and for the sake of our own future generations,” noted Lynch.
Gordon was charged in a 10-count indictment with conspiracy, smuggling and other charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison.