ANCHORAGE – A Skagway man has been indicted on charges alleging smuggling of walrus ivory and the illegal export and import of walrus ivory in violation of the Lacey Act, announced U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder on October 19.
James Terrance Williams, 67, of Skagway, d.b.a. Inside Passage Arts, was named in the 10-count indictment charging him with smuggling walrus ivory from the United States, smuggling walrus ivory into the United States, illegal sale of smuggled ivory in violation of the Lacey Act and Lacey Act false labeling, according to a press release.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), walrus ivory cannot be exported out of the United States, nor imported into the United States, without a permit. The indictment alleges that, in October 2014 and March 2016, Williams illegally exported raw, unworked walrus ivory tusks from Alaska to Indonesia for carving, and would then smuggle the carved walrus ivory back into the United States, disguising the illegal nature of the transportation by falsification of records, all in furtherance of illegal sales of the ivory.
This scheme involved numerous Lacey Act violations, the release said. Specifically, it is alleged that, in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, Williams would then sell the carved walrus ivory as merchandise, knowing that it had been unlawfully transported into the United States from a foreign county. Furthermore, it is alleged that Williams knowingly made or submitted false records and accounts for the importation, transportation and sale of carved walrus ivory tusks.
If convicted, Williams faces terms of imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case. This case is being prosecuted by Deputy Criminal Chief Steven E. Skrocki.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Williams could not be reached for comment.
Williams will be arraigned on Nov. 1 in federal court in Anchorage