BANGOR, Maine — The former Mountie accused of smuggling narwhal whale tusks across the border and mailing them to buyers around the U.S. for eight years pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to multiple counts of conspiracy and money laundering.
Gregory Robert Logan, 59, of Woodmans Point, New Brunswick, was emotional as he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money and nine counts of money laundering before U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock. Logan appeared to be weeping as the 40-minute hearing concluded.
Charges related to the actual smuggling of the tusks across the border are to be dismissed at sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Nelson told Woodcock on Wednesday. Nelson is with the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
A sentencing date for Logan has not been set. He has entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, but it does not include a specific sentencing recommendation. The defense and the prosecution agreed that under the federal sentencing guidelines, Logan would face between five years, three months and six and half years in prison. If the judge, however, decides Logan was a leader or organizer in the scheme and that he abused a position of trust when he began selling the tusks because he still was employed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Logan would face between 10 years, one month and 12 years, seven months behind bars.
The agreement did not state the number of tusks sold in the conspiracy but estimated the market value of the ones Logan sold illegally was between $1.5 million and $3 million. Information released by the Department of Justice in February 2016, said that three Americans bought more than 250 tusks from Logan during the conspiracy.
The document also said that federal prosecutors will not recommend that a fine be imposed. Restitution is not an issue in the case because there are no victims.
Logan is being held without bail.
He was turned over to American authorities by Canadian officials March 11 at the Calais border crossing after being wanted in the U.S. for three years.
Logan, who is retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is the third man convicted in the conspiracy. The other two were Americans.
A narwhal is a medium-size whale native to Arctic waters.
Narwhals are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and are covered by the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. It is illegal to import parts of the narwhal into the U.S. without a permit and without declaring the parts at the time of importation to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The male narwhal’s ivory tusk spirals counterclockwise from its head and can be as long as 8 feet, according to NationalGeographic.com. Scientists have speculated it is prominent in mating rituals, perhaps used to impress females or battle rival suitors. They are sought after by collectors for their uniqueness and beauty.
Logan obtained the tusks legally in Canada and sold them on the internet to collectors living in the U.S. He then concealed them under his truck and in a hidden compartment in a trailer he pulled behind the truck and crossed the border without the required permits and paperwork, according to court documents. The buyers then sold them to others in the U.S.
Logan mailed the tusks to customers from FedEx in Bangor, according to court documents. He had buyers send payments to a post office box in Ellsworth and deposited the money in branches of Machias Savings Bank.
Logan pleaded guilty in October 2013 in a Canadian court to charges connected to the smuggling operation. He was fined $385,000 and sentenced to eight months of probation, which included four months of home confinement.
He was indicted in November 2012 by the federal grand jury with Jay Gus Conrad, 69, of Lakeland, Tennessee, who is now deceased, and Andrew J. Zarauskas, 63, of Union, New Jersey. Logan’s wife, Nina Logan, 55, of Woodmans Point, New Brunswick, also was indicted. Charges against her are expected to be dismissed in the U.S. as the charges filed against her in Canada were dropped.
Conrad pleaded guilty in January 2014 to charges in connection with the operation but died on April 22 this year before being sentenced.
Zarauskas was found guilty in February 2014 by a jury for his role in the operation. Eleven months later, he was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $7,500 fine. Zarauskas also was ordered to forfeit $85,089, six narwhal tusks ranging from 35½ inches to 95 inches in length and a rare narwhal skull that had two tusks instead of one.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month denied the appeal of his conviction, according to the court system’s electronic case filing system.
He is incarcerated at the Federal Corrections Institute in Butner, North Carolina, a medium-security facility, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmate locator. The earliest date Zarauskas could be released is Sept. 15, 2017.
Eddie Thomas Dunn, 59, of Eads, Tennessee, waived indictment and pleaded guilty in December 2011 in federal court in Anchorage, Alaska, to one count each of conspiracy to illegally selling wildlife and illegally selling wildlife but the case was sealed until February 2014.
By pleading guilty, Dunn admitted that he and an unnamed co-conspirator paid Gregory Robert Logan $126,000 for 135 tusks and resold them for $1.11 million in Alaska, Washington state, Ohio, Florida and Tennessee. Dunn was sentenced in April 2015 to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.