By Debbie L. Sklar, Times of San Diego
Criminal charges have been filed against a San Diego man accused of trafficking items made from the ivory of elephants, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Stephen Shu Wang, 53, is accused of advertising items made of ivory, then selling thousands of dollars’ worth of the merchandise to an undercover wildlife officer on two separate occasions. Some of the items offered for sale included ivory chess sets, sections of carved elephant tusk and a room divider made from ivory panels.
Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel served a search warrant at Wang’s home and seized “hundreds” of pieces of ivory, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Wang is charged with 15 criminal counts which allege violations of the state Penal Code and the California Fish and Game Code. First-time violations can result in up to a year in jail and fines of up to $40,000 per count.
The sale of nearly all ivory has been banned in California since 2016, with the only exceptions being musical instruments made of less than 20% ivory and manufactured no later than 1975 and antiques made of less than 5% ivory which are more than 100 years old, the City Attorney’s Office said.
“Ivory trafficking is a despicable business that perpetuates the brutal slaughter of elephants,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said. “If you are in possession of ivory, it is illegal to sell it, and there are consequences for breaking the law. I thank our partner, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, for prioritizing the prosecution of those who profit from the illegal ivory trade.”