Nenana Man Sentenced for Federal Wildlife Laws, Lacey and Marine Mammal Act

A Nenana man was sentenced in Federal Court on Friday for his connection in the violation of federal wildlife laws, the Lacey Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

61-year-old Nenana resident Miles W. Martin was sentenced in U.S. District Court by Judge Ralph Beistline to six months in prison on four federal counts. He had originally been charged with 28 counts that included violation of wildlife trafficking, illegal sale of migratory birds, smuggling of wildlife, illegal sale of marine mammal parts and conspiracy.

Along with his prison sentence, Martin’s sentence banned him from selling wildlife parts for life, required him to relinquish to the United States more than 900 pounds of wildlife parts including lion, bear, walrus ivory, parts of seal, polar bear parts, and elephant ivory, and to pay a fine of $6,500. He also received three years supervised release following his prison term.

Martin admitted to being involved in a lengthy and long term walrus ivory smuggling conspiracy, as well as to being involved in the smuggling of wildlife parts world-wide, and to the illegal sale of migratory bird parts.

Regarding his involvement in illegal walrus ivory sales, Martin admitted that from at least February 2010 and continuing up to March 9, 2011, he conspired with others to illegally purchase walrus tusks and walrus parts for illegal resale, transport, and export from the United States. Between July 2010 and March 2011, Martin’s two co-conspirators traveled to Savoonga, Alaska, and purchased walrus tusks and parts taken from animals recently killed and tagged by individuals in Savoonga. The co-conspirators transported the walrus tusks and parts to their home in Glennallen, Alaska, and then transported some of those tusks and parts to Nenana, Alaska and Fairbanks where they transferred them to Martin. In August 2010, and as part of the conspiracy, Martin paid $2,138 for the airline tickets and gave $1,000 cash to the co-conspirators for their trip. Approximately 275 pounds of walrus tusks were purchased on that trip. In exchange for financing that trip, Martin received raw walrus tusks from the co-conspirators, and later illegally sold some of those tusks.

Martin illegally purchased at least 26 walrus tusks from the two co-conspirators who provided Martin with bogus “gift” letters, attempting to disguise Martin’sillegal purchase of the walrus ivory. Martin and the other co-conspirators also attempted to dye the walrus tusks to make the tusks look like fossil ivory in an effort to conceal the illegality of the walrus tusk purchases and sales. Martin’s plea agreement also detailed the sale of a walrus head (with tusks) to a customer in Argentina, and the smuggling of the walrus head out of the United States without the proper customs permits. He also admitted the illegal sale of marine mammal partsto an undercover agent including: 20 seal claws; one polar bear tooth; one tooth offered for sale as a whale tooth which was a tooth of a seal or sea lion; polar bear teeth; fur; and various migratory bird parts.

Martin further admitted that in August 2010, he knowingly exported walrus ivory from Alaska to a customer in Denmark contrary to federal law, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Endangered Species Act. Martin on numerous occasions between May 2009 and April 2011, unlawfully sold and exported wildlife such as wolf, lion, lynx, and walrus parts, to customers outside the United States including the Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Argentina, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Finland, Norway, Brazil, and Germany. Between May 2009 and April 2011, Martin exported at least 30 packages of wildlife parts without obtaining an export license, an International Trade in Endangered Species export permit or the necessary wildlife export documentation.

Martin engaged in approximately 225 transactions during a period from February 2007 until November of 2012 netting him about $58,000 according to court documents.

Martin said in court that he facilitated his illegal wildlife trafficking using his acccess to the Internet. He also told the court that he is out of the wildlife business for the rest of his life.

Stan Pruszenski of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement said, “Significant wildlife violations require significant punishment. This sentence will serve to deter others similarly inclined.”

On his web site Miles of Alaska, he said, “Selling animal products was my passion for 45 years, and represented 95% of my business. But aparently it is time to change, move on , focus on ‘other things.’ Legal issues with animal materials …. ‘never mind’ Will try selling my books, knife blades, stones, some art etc. Having to rework the web site.”