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Andrew Zarauskas, Jay Conrad Plead Not Guilty To Narwhal Tusk Smuggling

Andrew Zarauskas Narwhal Tusk Smuggling

First Posted: 01/13/13 EST Updated: 01/14/13 EST

Tusk, tusk.

Andrew Zarauskas, of Union, N.J., and Jay Conrad, of Lakeland, Tenn. pleaded not guilty Friday to smuggling narwhal tusks from Canada into Maine, The Bangor Daily News reported.

Authorities say the two men brought the tusks from Canada inside a trailer with a secret compartment, then illegally sold them in the United States.

Narwhals are known as the "unicorns of the sea" due to their spiraled, horn-like ivory tusks. The narwhal tusk is actually a tooth that protrude from the upper jaw, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

The Inuit are legally allowed to hunt narwhals for subsistence, and often sell the tusks for profit. Some buyers believe the tusks have supernatural powers, while others wish to use them for display purposes or make them into jewelry. Tusks can sell for up to $30,000 apiece, according to the New York Times, but typically go for between between $1,000 and $7,000 each, Furcanada president Calvin Kania told the Associated Press.

Importing narwhal tusks into several countries -- including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia -- is illegal.

Zaruaskas and Conrad, who were arrested in December, are charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to launder money, smuggling goods into the United States and money laundering.