Smuggling Ivory Into the US Got This Couple a $500 Slap on the Wrist

May 27, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) intercepted a couple arriving from the Philippines who “claimed to be carrying pickled mango,” a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told The Points Guy.

According to a statement from the department, “inconsistencies” were identified in the travelers’ luggage when an agriculture specialist screened the bags. Upon opening the suitcase, 34 pieces of carved elephant ivory were discovered, along with carved warthog and hippopotamus tusks.

Inspectors from the US Fish and Wildlife service were alerted, and the entire collection — approximately 16 pounds of ivory — was seized.

(Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Patrol)
(Photo by US Customs & Border Protection)

For transporting items in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) agreement, the couple was fined $500.

“In this particular case,” the Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told TPG, “the couple did not initially declare the ivory. If an individual [purchased] ivory products at a time when it was legal, they can legally bring [them] into the US — if they have the proper documentation. This particular couple did not have documentation, therefore, the ivory was seized.”

(Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Patrol)
(Photo by US Customs & Border Protection)

If it strikes you as odd that a couple attempting to smuggle nearly 40 pieces of ivory across the US border was fined the same amount as a woman who left an apple from Delta in her bag, well, you’re not alone.

“Fines are based on a variety of factors,” the spokesperson explained. A separate spokesperson from the US Fish and Wildlife Service told The Points Guy that “a range of fines” can be issued for illegally importing (or attempting to import) items of this nature. It’s a “question for a judge to determine,” she added.

Though a $500 fine for trying to casually cross the border with undocumented and almost certainly illegal ivory may feel like an inadequate slap on the wrist, it’s worth noting that, as an additional penalty, the ivory — which was valued at $25,000 — was confiscated. The commandeered ivory pieces will be sent to the National Wildlife Property Repository, the “Seattle Times” reported, where they will either be displayed for educational purposes or destroyed.

Featured image courtesy of US Customs and Border Protection. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.