SALISBURY, Conn. – A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to smuggling more than $26,000 worth of endangered sperm whale teeth from Ukraine into the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Justice says John Bell, of Lakeville, entered his plea Wednesday to wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act. The law bans trade in illegally obtained wildlife, fish and plants.
Court records show Bell sold about 34 teeth to a co-conspirator in Massachusetts. The teeth weigh about 2 pounds (0.90 kilograms), and Bell told a buyer they would cost about $310 per pound.
Bell works as an artist, and documents show he listed the teeth as "paintings" on receipts to hide their sales.
The buyer was convicted in connection with the trafficking in 2010 and sentenced to 33 months in prison.