California Businessman Indicted on Ivory Smuggling Charges

The owner of a Claremont doughnut shop was indicted Tuesday on federal charges that he bought endangered-elephant ivory on EBay and smuggled it into the United States from Thailand three years ago. Moun Chau, 50, of Montclair was charged with conspiracy and the illegal importation of wildlife, according to the indictment, which cited violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The alleged smuggling was discovered in November 2006 when authorities found four African elephant tusks in a shipment purported to be toys. With rare exception, the U.S. prohibits the importation of any ivory, federal officials said, because endangered elephants often are killed for their tusks to make jewelry, statues and other items.

“Buyers in the United States and elsewhere in the world are creating this market for ivory and feeding the poachers in Africa who are killing these animals,” said Erin L. Dean, who heads the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s law enforcement office in Torrance.

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