North Hollywood Pool Cue Maker Charged with Helping Smuggle Elephant Ivory
LOS ANGELES – A North Hollywood man surrendered to U.S. Marshals this morning after an arrest warrant was issued on federal charges of aiding and abetting the illegal smuggling of protected elephant ivory.
Cesar Ernesto Gutierrez, 75, was charged in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in United States District Court with aiding and abetting the attempted illegal exportation from the United States to Taiwan of protected African elephant ivory.
The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Gutierrez, a well-known custom pool cue maker in the United States, operates Ginacue, a custom pool cue manufacturing business in North Hollywood. Gutierrez allegedly manufactured and sold two people approximately 41 sections of custom pool cues containing the protected elephant ivory inlays. The two individuals were subsequently arrested at Los Angeles International Airport when agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered the pool cues in their luggage. The seized pool cues were purchased from Gutierrez for approximately $75,000 to $85,000. Gutierrez is charged with aiding and abetting the attempted illegal smuggling of the high-value pool cues.
“The protection of threatened and endangered wildlife is an international concern,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Illegal trafficking of protected species, even small parts of them, creates a market and demand that can lead to the decimation of these vulnerable populations.”
Gutierrez appeared this afternoon in United States District Court and was released on a $10,000 appearance bond. Post-indictment arraignment was scheduled for August 24.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The charge alleged in the complaint carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance by United States Customs and Border Protection personnel. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda M. Bettinelli of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.