The Manhattan DA's office announced that two ivory dealers have pleaded guilty to trying to sell illegal elephant ivory: "Mukesh Gupta, Johnson Jung-Chien Lu and their companies pleaded guilty to illegal commercialization of wildlife, forfeited a combined total of more than $2 million in ivory and paid a total of $55,000 to aid the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to help elephants."
Gupta's company Raja Jewels sold ivory and also supplied ivory to Lu's jewelry store, New York Jewelry Mart Cop. Investigators found ivory in the form of beads, intricately carved tusks, bracelets, earrings, and animal carvings. DA Cy Vance said, "Poachers should not have a market in Manhattan. It is unacceptable that tusks from elephants wind up being sold as mass-produced jewelry and unremarkable decorative items in this city." He also pointed out, "If we only look at this issue as, `Hey, I didn't have a permit,' and you ignore the consequences, you are fueling the trade of wildlife crime. You are encouraging and fostering the extinction of species."
Gupta's and Lu's lawyers claim that much of the ivory was obtained before the U.S. banned the sale of ivory when the animals were deemed endangered, but they wouldn't reveal where they got the ivory from. TRAFFIC, which monitors the wildlife trade, said that in 2011, over 24 tons of ivory was seized: "Between 2002 and 2006, 4 out of every 10 dead elephants were killed by poachers, but today 8 out of 10 dead elephants are killed by poachers, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The largest demand for this illegally traded ivory comes from China and Japan, and popular uses for the ivory include billiard balls, piano keys, carved art, and jewelry."