U.S. Marshals arrested a North Hollywood man on federal charges of aiding and abetting the illegal smuggling of protected elephant ivory, according to officials.
Cesar Ernesto Gutierrez, 75, was charged in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court with aiding and abetting the attempted illegal exportation from the United States to Taiwan of protected African elephant ivory, according to officials.
The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Gutierrez, a well-known custom pool cue maker in the United States, operates Ginacue, a custom pool cue manufacturing business in North Hollywood. Gutierrez allegedly manufactured and sold two people approximately 41 sections of custom pool cues containing the protected elephant ivory inlays.
The two individuals were subsequently arrested at Los Angeles International Airport when agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered the pool cues in their luggage.
The seized pool cues were purchased from Gutierrez for approximately $75,000 to $85,000. Gutierrez is charged with aiding and abetting the attempted illegal smuggling of the high-value pool cues, according to officials.
“The protection of threatened and endangered wildlife is an international concern,” said U.S.Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Illegal trafficking of protected species, even small parts of them, creates a market and demand that can lead to the decimation of these vulnerable populations.”
Gutierrez appeared in federal court and was released on a $10,000 appearance bond. Arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 24. Gutierrez is facing up to 10 years in prison. He is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
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