The former Canadian mountie whom a federal prosecutor calls one of the “most prolific wildlife criminals ever prosecuted in this country” was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to five years and two months in prison for his role in a narwhal tusk-smuggling conspiracy.
A year ago, Gregory Robert Logan, 60, of Grande Prairie, Alberta, and formerly of Woodmans Point, New Brunswick, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money and nine counts of money laundering.
Under Logan’s plea agreement, charges related to the actual smuggling of some 300 tusks across the border were dismissed after the sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge John Woodcock. The judge also dismissed pending charges against Nina L. Logan, Gregory Logan’s wife, related to the smuggling operation.
Woodcock said he considers environmental wildlife crimes such as the one Logan committed to be “one of the most heinous because they impact the entire planet.”
“The narwhal whale is worth more to the rest of us alive than it could possibly be to someone dead,” the judge said in imposing the sentence.
The judge also said that Logan’s illegal activity had sullied the reputation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“When law enforcers become law breakers, it causes the rest of society to despair,” Woodcock said.
An emotional Logan tried to read an apology to the judge, but broke down and asked his attorney, Kaylee Folster of Bangor, to complete it.
In the statement, Logan apologized for the “burden” on the American justice system that his “selfishness created.”
Logan, dressed in jail-issued clothing, used an amplifying device due to a work-related hearing loss and stood during most of the proceeding because of a back injury suffered when his cruiser hit a moose years ago.
The retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Sept. 28, 2016, admitted to smuggling about 300 narwhal whale tusks, valued by federal prosecutors at $1.5 million to $3 million, into the United States, where he shipped them to buyers outside Maine.
Logan was sentenced in 2013 on smuggling charges in Canada to eight months of probation that included four months of home confinement, according to court documents. He also was ordered to pay $380,000, the highest fine ever imposed in that country for wildlife smuggling.
In sentencing Logan, Woodcock said he gave him eight months credit for the probation.
Folster told the judge that Logan faces jail time in Canada when he returns because he has not been able to pay the fine. She said she did not know how much Logan still owes.
Shel also said Logan, who acted as a wholesaler, made just $120,000 on the tusk sales.
Logan was turned over to American authorities by Canadian officials on March 11, 2016, at the Calais border crossing after being wanted in the U.S. for more than three years. He has been held without bail since then at the Somerset County Jail in Madison. That time will be applied to his sentence.
He obtained the tusks legally in Canada and sold them on the internet to collectors in the United States for almost 10 years. Logan concealed the tusks under his truck and in a hidden compartment in a trailer he pulled behind the truck, crossing the border without the required permits, according to court documents.
Logan mailed the tusks to buyers throughout the United States from the Bangor FedEx office, 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.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Nelson, who is with the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., called Logan’s 62 months “a just sentence.”
Nelson had recommended Logan be sentenced to seven years and three months in federal prison.
What will happen to the narwhal tusks seized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as evidence had not been decided as of Wednesday’s sentencing. They may be stored in the agency’s evidence facility in Colorado or loaned to museums. Federal law forbids them to being sold.
A narwhal is a medium-size whale native to Arctic waters.
Narwhals are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and they are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. It is illegal to import parts of the narwhal into the U.S. without a permit . The only exception is if the owner can prove the tusk was obtained before 1972.
Logan admitted he created false documents to show buyers the tusks were obtained before 1972.
The male narwhal’s ivory tusk spirals counterclockwise from its head and can be as long as 8 feet, according to National Geographic. Scientists have speculated the tusk is prominent in mating rituals, perhaps used to impress females or battle rival suitors. Female narwhals do not have tusks. The tusks are prized by collectors for their strangeness and beauty.