Russians sentenced for smuggling 100 tonnes of mammoth tusks
Two Russians have been sentenced for smuggling 100 tonnes of mammoth tusks dug up from the permafrost of northern Russia, security services in Saint Petersburg said Thursday.
Mikhail Gladyshev and Andrei Zvonkov received eight year suspended sentences at a court in the Leningrad region for smuggling "mammoth tusks and fragments of prehistoric animal skeletons," Russia's FSB security service said in a statement.
The men exported more than 100 tonnes of the prehistoric bones, with a market price of up to 1,000 dollars per kilogram, from the Sakha Republic in the far north of Russia, the FSB said.
They used fake export permits from the official agency in charge of the country's cultural heritage, it said.
Despite the huge volume of the smuggling operation, the men received a reduced sentence for cooperating with investigators.
Thousand-year-old Mammoth bones and tusks are sold as an alternative to ivory.
More than 80 percent of all mammoth finds have been dug up in the permafrost of the vast Sakha Republic in eastern Siberia. The most perfectly preserved remains of the Ice Age mammals still have hair and internal organs.
© 2010 AFP