NEWS
03/17/2016 10:05 EDT | Updated 03/18/2017 01:12 EDT

Ex-Mountie who smuggled narwhal tusks extradited to U.S.

PORTLAND, Maine — A retired RCMP officer is in U.S. custody awaiting trial on charges stemming from the smuggling of narwhal tusks.

Gregory Logan, 58, of St. John, waived the right to a detention hearing Wednesday in Bangor, Maine, after being extradited to face charges of money laundering.

Logan was convicted in a New Brunswick court in 2013 for smuggling narwhal tusks to the U.S., was fined $385,000 and given an eight-month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

U.S. prosecutors say Logan smuggled 250 tusks worth $2 million across the border into Maine in false compartments in his vehicle.

Narwhals are medium-sized whales known for spiral tusks that can grow longer than 2 metres. They are protected by the U.S. and Canada.

Their tusks, like elephant tusks, are valued for their use in carvings and jewelry-making.

"As this case shows, wildlife trafficking can involve millions in illegal transactions, compounding the damage it does to the wealth and diversity of life on our planet," Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in a statement from Washington, D.C.

Logan, who retired from the RCMP in 2003, was charged along with two U.S. residents.

Andrew Zarauskas was convicted and sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in the smuggling operation. Jay Conrad pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

According to the indictment, Logan was working as a Mountie when he began bringing narwhal tusks across the border into the U.S. in 2000.

Under extradition terms, U.S. prosecutors dropped the smuggling charges and are pursuing money laundering charges from his transfer of money to Canada after selling the tusks in the U.S.

Court documents don't indicate whether Logan has retained a lawyer.

If convicted of money laundering, he would face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000, prosecutors said.

David Sharp, The Associated Press