Walruses are pictured in this courtesy photo. (Courtesy Photo | USFWS National Digital Library)

Walruses are pictured in this courtesy photo. (Courtesy Photo | USFWS National Digital Library)

Skagway man indicted for walrus ivory smuggling

Art broker allegedly took ivory to Indonesia for carving, then falsified documents on trip back to Alaska

A Skagway man has been indicted for allegedly smuggling walrus ivory to Indonesia for carving, then selling the art in the United States in violation of federal law.

The Anchorage U.S. Attorney’s Office filed Friday the 10-count indictment of James Terrance Williams, 67, for lying on paperwork, smuggling and the illegal sale of walrus ivory through his business Inside Passage Arts.

Dkt 2 Indictment by Kevin Gullufsen on Scribd

In 2014 and 2016, Williams smuggled at least nine Pacific walrus tusks into Indonesia, where he had them carved, according to charging documents. He then allegedly falsified paperwork allowing him to smuggle the carved tusks back to the United States, where they were sold within Alaska and in other U.S. states.

[Etsy.com stops letting Alaska Native artists sell ivory work]

Taking walrus ivory out or into the United States without a permit violates an international agreement called the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), according to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder.

The scheme also puts Williams in violation of several federal laws related to the trafficking of wildlife, the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to charging documents.

The website for Inside Passage Arts describes artist and manager Terry Williams as a Native American painter, carver and metal-smith working in Northwest Coast style.

[Trademarks as protection of Alaska Native art and culture]

If convicted, Williams faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation. Deputy Criminal Chief Steven E. Skrocki will prosecute the case.

Williams’ arraignment hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 1 at the James M. Fitzgerald United States Courthouse and Federal Building in Anchorage.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

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