New York seizes $4.5-m worth of elephant ivory items

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NEW YORK: The New York authorities seized $4.5 million worth of illegal elephant ivory items in what they described as the biggest bust in the state’s history, officials said Thursday. Ivory items put on display for reporters included scores of statuettes, a carved column, two pairs of tusks and a chess set. Two pairs of tusks — an adult elephant’s and another from a young adult — were valued at $200,000 and $150,000, respectively. The ivory came from at least 12 slain animals, officials said. “We are going to dry up… a market that only fuels the slaughter of elephants,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said. “It is inexcusable, it is immoral.” New York City is a hub of illegal elephant ivory trade, ahead of California and Hawaii, said Basil Seggos, head of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. His office participated in the probe. “This type of behavior will no longer be tolerated,” he said. New York was one of the first states in 2014 to adopt strict laws banning ivory sales to protect elephants, Vance said. Undercover police posing as buyers seized the latest items at a midtown Manhattan art and antiquities store. Although officials said they were not certain where the items came from, they did say most ivory craftsmen are found in China.

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