(CBS/AP) PORTLAND, Maine - Two Americans indicted over a plot to smuggle the tusks of single-tusked narwhal whales into the U.S. have pleaded not guilty in federal court in Maine, The New York Times reports.
The alleged smuggling ring brought the whale tusks from the Canadian Arctic into Maine in a trailer with a secret compartment. The tusks were then illegally sold to American buyers, officials said, according to CBS Boston.
Andrew J. Zarauskas, 59, of New Jersey, and Jay Gus Conrad, 66, of Tennessee went before a federal judge on Friday. They are facing 29 federal smuggling and money laundering charges each, the station reported.
For nearly a decade, two Canadians, whose names are redacted, smuggled the tusks into Maine and shipped them via FedEx to Zarauskas, Conrad and other unnamed American buyers, according to an indictment. The Canadian pair faces charges in Canada, according to authorities there.
The narwhal tusks can reportedly sell for thousands of dollars each, but it is illegal to import them into the U.S.
According to The New York Times, Zarauskas and Conrad could each face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.