Los Angeles—City Attorney Mike Feuer has announced that a Los Angeles County jury has convicted a 48-year-old man on misdemeanor charges of selling elephant ivory. Oleg N. Chakhov was sentenced to 10 days in county jail in lieu of a $5,000 fine, placed on three years probation, ordered to perform 30 days of community labor, ordered to forfeit all ivory from the case and is prohibited from possessing any ivory items.
"Selling ivory is not only illegal, it’s immoral," said Feuer. "The ivory trade is abominable, with devastating consequences that imperil the world’s diminishing elephant population. This prosecution and conviction send the strong message to those who may think of selling ivory on the black market--we will find you and hold you accountable. I want to thank our partners at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for their work bringing this case to us."
The City Attorney’s has been in consultation with the United Kingdom as they have introduced one of the toughest ivory bans in the world.
The investigation began in March 2017, when wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Trafficking Unit saw several ivory statues advertised for sale online. Officers emailed the seller and asked to meet to look at and possibly purchase the ivory statues.
Chakhov told officers he worked at the Durant City Library on Sunset Boulevard and requested they meet there to conduct the sale. Chakhov brought nine ivory statues to the meeting, offering to sell them for $3,000. He ultimately sold two of the statues to the undercover officers for $800.
"We would like to thank the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for their assistance in this investigation and the subsequent prosecution," said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Law Enforcement Division Chief. "The penalties assessed by this court should deter further acts of ivory trafficking and prove California’s commitment to halting the demand for ivory which contributes to poaching of elephants in their native range."
Assembly Bill 96, authored in 2015 by then Assembly Speaker and currently Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), made it unlawful to purchase, sell, offer for sale, possess with intent to sell or import with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn, except as specified. A first-time violation of this law is a misdemeanor subject to specified criminal penalties and fines between $1,000 and $40,000, depending upon the value of the item.