Souvenir Sellers in Hawaii Busted for Wildlife Trafficking

A Hawaii souvenir shop’s owner, employees, and business partners were indicted on 21 counts in June for illegally trafficking in whale bone, elephant and walrus ivory, and black corals.

Hawaiian Accessories Inc. owner Curtis Wilmington was charged with violating the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Lacey Act (which addresses wildlife trafficking). Two employees, Kauiokaala Chung and Kauilani Wilmington (daughter of Curtis), were also charged, as were Elmer Biscocho, an independent contractor, and Sergio Biscocho, the owner of a company in the Philippines that worked the raw materials into souvenirs.

Prosecutors allege that Sergio Biscocho received raw whale bone and ivory from Hawaii at his business in the Philippines, carved them into souvenirs and jewelry, and returned them for sale by Hawaiian Accessories. Curtis Wilmington is additionally charged with importing black coral jewelry and carvings from Mexico.

The indictments followed a multi-agency investigation involving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Homeland Security, which culminated in a May 20 raid on the Hawaiian Accessories warehouse off Honolulu Harbor.