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Press Release

Pool Cue Maker Sentenced for Helping to Smuggle Elephant Ivory

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

            LOS ANGELES – A North Hollywood man was sentenced this morning on federal charges related to the attempted illegal exportation from the United States to Taiwan of protected African elephant ivory.

            Cesar Ernesto Gutierrez, 75, was sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter to two years of probation, which will include four months of home confinement. Judge Walter ordered Gutierrez to immediately pay a criminal fine of $10,000.

            Gutierrez pleaded guilty on August 29, 2016 to aiding and abetting the attempted smuggling of African elephant ivory.

            According to court documents, Gutierrez is a well-known maker of custom pool cues who operates Ginacue in North Hollywood. Gutierrez manufactured and sold two Taiwanese nationals approximately 41 sections of custom pool cues containing inlays of protected elephant ivory. The two individuals Huang Ching Liu and Wen Shou Wei Chen 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. Liu and Chen were indicted separately. The seized pool cues were purchased from Gutierrez for approximately $75,000 to $85,000. 

            “The protection of our endangered wildlife is an ongoing international concern, particularly with the devastating impact on African elephants caused by illegal ivory trafficking,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Illegal trafficking of any part of a protected species creates a demand that can lead to the extinction of these vulnerable populations.”

            This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance from United States Customs and Border Protection. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda M. Bettinelli of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.

Updated November 7, 2016

Press Release Number: 16-274