Federal law officials raided an Iwilei warehouse on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the illegal ivory trade.
Agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration arrested and filed a criminal complaint against Sergio Biscocho of Hawaii Kai for smuggling.
According to the complaint, federal investigators intercepted several boxes of elephant and walrus ivory and whale bone that was being imported into Hawaii during the past year.
All three are banned in the U.S.
One witness told investigators that a local Hawaiian jewelry maker, Hawaiian Accessories, sent the ivory to Biscocho in the Philippines, where he made fish hooks and other carvings out of them.
He then shipped the finished products back to Hawaiian Accessories, which sells Hawaiian jewelry at its kiosks in Waikiki and Ala Moana Center.
Investigators said they were told that the smuggling went on for three years.
Hawaiian Accessories was not charged and a call to its owner was not returned.
“This is just one spoke in the wheel,” said environmental activist Carroll Cox.
Cox is a former Fish & Wildlife special agent, who handled a number of cases involving smuggling of endangered species. He thinks the feds are on to a bigger smuggling ring.
“There is a broader picture, a bigger game of transporting and selling and commercializing elephants and other endangered species,” he said.
Biscocho, a native of the Philippines is currently being held without bail, as federal officials assess whether he is a flight risk.
If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in jail.