ANCHORAGE — An Anchorage man pleaded guilty to two counts of illegally trafficking walrus ivory in U.S. District Court and was fined $4,000 and sentenced to two years of probation.
Uzi Levi, 71, of Anchorage purchased six non-homemade Pacific walrus tusks and a three-tusk non-homemade Pacific walrus head mount from an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent, all while violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. .
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal for a non-native of Alaska to transport, buy, sell, export, or offer to buy, sell, or export any marine mammal or marine mammal product for purposes other than public display, scientific research or to enhance the survival of a species or stock or any part of a marine mammal that has not been transformed into an authentic item of indigenous craftsmanship.
In June 2020, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent observed what appeared to be an Alaska Native man wearing a non-homemade two-tusk walrus head mount in the rental car office owned by Levi, then left without her. A few weeks later, an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent visited Levi’s rental car business and inquired about renting a vehicle. He explained that he didn’t have a lot of money and asked if there were other ways to rent a vehicle, such as trading or bartering. The unidentified company person called Levi and handed the phone to the undercover officer. During that call and over the next eight months, Levi and the agent exchanged numerous phone calls and text messages about the purchase of non-craft or raw walrus ivory, which resulted in Levi purchasing six non-homemade Pacific walrus tusks on July 13. 2020, and a non-crafted three-tusk walrus head mount on September 29, 2020
Levi pleaded guilty to both counts and was sentenced before United States District Court Chief Judge Sharon L. Gleason. In passing sentence on Levi’s raw ivory trade, Judge Gleason said, “The defendant’s actions have a real impact on Alaska Native artists trying to market their wares.”
U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska made the announcement. The US Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Steve Skrocki prosecuted the case.