Illegal Ivory Statues And Python Skins Seized In Bay Area Raids

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Wildlife agents have seized more than 100 wallets, purses and bags made of illegal python skins and dozens of art works created from illegal ivory and rhinoceros horns in a series of Bay Area raids, state fish and wildlife officials announced Tuesday.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife, officers and inspectors intercepted a shipment of three boxes from Indonesia containing 116 items made of python skin including wallets and purses.

California prohibits the use of skins or parts of a python for commercial use. The CDFW said it would recommend that criminal charges be filed in the case by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office.

Meanwhile, CDFW agents were also busy in San Francisco.

The state agency says its officers worked with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to crackdown on illicit trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn.

Wildlife officers inspected several businesses and found two with significant violations.

A solid bone pagoda and a rhinoceros horn bracelet was seized at one location while at a second location wildlife agents seized 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.

Also seized was a suspected whale teeth, two ivory chess sets and two carved tusks labeled as mammoth ivory.

The total value of the seized items from the San Francisco operation was estimated at over $500,000.

The CDFW said criminal charges will be recommended to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.

A law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California took effect on July 1st. The ban encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection.

“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. “The creation of our Wildlife Trafficking Team and enhancement of our laboratory and legal staff are important steps in stopping the epidemic of poaching and trafficking of wildlife in California and around the world. “

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