Narwhal-horn smuggling ring busted in Maine
There’s not much going on in Maine, unless you count the prostitution ring that’s being running out of a Zumba studio, and, most recently, a busted-up illegal narwhal tusk importing racket. Two unnamed Canadian smugglers are being charged in Canada for arranging the sales of around 150 narwhal tusks via Fed-Ex, and two American men, Andrew Zarauskas and Jay Conrad, will be arraigned this week for receiving the tusks. At least one of them is being represented in court by a public defender, probably because he spent his rainy-day lawyer money on narwhal tusks, which can sell for up to $7,000 each.
Ready for some little-known facts about narwhals? 1) They are real animals and not, despite appearances, some kind of pasted-together Fiji Mermaid made out of a beluga and an antelope. 2) They’re bitchingly hard to catch, even for people who just want to study them and take pictures of their weird faces, so it’s sort of infuriating that horn-smugglers managed to catch them when legitimate scientists can’t. 3) That tusk they have growing out of the front of their face is actually an overgrown canine. 4) It is not illegal to hunt narwhals in Canada (they are “near-threatened” which is apparently Canadianese for “just go ahead and kill them who gives a fuck”) but it is illegal to ship their tusks to the United States and to sell them.
It would be interesting to hear the chatter in small-town Maine about these guys. “They were importing what?” The Coen brothers might do a very nice job with one.
Two Americans Charged in Narwhal-Tusk Smuggling Ring Bust, Smithsonian.