USA: Two indicted for selling over $30K in illegal elephant ivory through online business based in Long Island

Jul 2, 2024 | News

By Dean Balsamini, New York Post

Two people have been indicted for selling thousands of dollars’ worth of illegal elephant ivory through online auctions.

Between April 2020 and May 2023, Grace Hu and Yincheng Wu allegedly operated Merces, an online auction business, out of an office on Long Island, according to court records.

Through Merces, Hu, 45, of Flushing, Queens, and Wu, 33, of Great Neck, advertised and sold elephant ivory carvings, including carved tusks, evading detection by advertising their products as “rare material” rather than elephant ivory, prosecutors said.

The scheme began to unravel when the pair sold ivory products to an undercover state Department of Environmental Conservation officer on three separate occasions, including: a carved elephant tusk for $31,950; a set of elephant ivory rosary beads for $4,800 and three elephant ivory figurines for $2,640.

The duo conducted auctions both on their website and, prosecutors said.

The undercover officer purchased the ivory rosary, labeled “Chinese gold-inlaid rare material 18-counts rosary,” during an auction on the Live Auctioneers website, authorities said.

After a joint probe by New York authorities and the Department of Homeland Security, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seized and the two were indicted.

“Yincheng Wu and Grace Hu allegedly sold thousands of dollars’ worth of illegal ivory, harming an already endangered species by perpetuating the illicit market for ivory,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“Those who partake in the illegal ivory trade will be held accountable.”

Wu, Hu and Merces Gallery LL were each charged in Manhattan Supreme Court with three counts of illegal commercialization of wildlife, Bragg announced June 14.

Wu and Hu pleaded not guilty at arraignment and were released on their own recognizance, court records state.

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