Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Endangered Whale Teeth

A Connecticut man pleaded guilty Wednesday to trafficking teeth from endangered sperm whales, according to a memo from the Justice Department. John “Jake” Bell admitted to selling approximately 34 sperm whale teeth to a co-conspirator while in the Ukraine, for a total of $11,600, The co-conspirator was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 33 months in prison. According to papers filed in federal court, Bell also smuggled at least 49 pounds of sperm whale teeth into the country, and “sold nine carved teeth to customers in the United States, with a total value of $20,300.” “Gone are the days when people can buy, sell and trade parts harvested from protected creatures like the sperm whale. This amazing creature is safeguarded from exploitation by federal laws like the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act as well as international treaties,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood, according to the memo. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that those who attempt to profit from the illegal trade of endangered species will face the consequences for their actions under law.”