US men plead not guilty to buying narwhal tusks

6:06 PM, Jan 11, 2013   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (AP) - Two U.S. men accused of participating in a ring that smuggled narwhal tusks from Canada into Maine have pleaded not guilty.

Andrew Zarauskas, of Union, N.J., and Jay Conrad, of Lakeland, Tenn., face 29 smuggling and money laundering charges each. They were free on bond Friday after entering their pleas in federal court in Bangor.

Narwhals have ivory tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. The tusks can sell for thousands of dollars but it's illegal to import them into the U.S.

Prosecutors say two Canadian men smuggled the tusks across the border in a secret compartment in a trailer. Those two men were charged in Canada, while their alleged buyers, Zarauskas and Conrad, were charged in U.S. District Court.

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