Search warrant details ivory haul from La Jolla gallery

SAN DIEGO - A sculpture of a female dancer with ivory inlay. Another of two women dancers. One of Romeo and Juliet.

A 32-piece ivory chess set, several rings and exquisitely carved ivory ornaments from Japan.

That’s just a partial list of the items that state investigators took out of the Carlton Gallery in La Jolla on May 1, according to search warrant documents filed in San Diego Superior Court.

The haul confirmed what investigators had suspected: that the gallery was engaging in the illegal sale of ivory. More than six months later — on Nov. 28 — the San Diego City Attorney’s Office filed charges against gallery owner Victor Hyman Cohen and salesman Sheldon Kupersmith, accusing them of violating a state law banning the illegal trafficking of ivory passed in 2016, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The search warrant and accompanying affidavit by Officer Kaitlin Blagg with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife not only itemizes the haul taken from the gallery but also shed a bit of light on the probe. It says that the supervisor of the department’s Wildlife Trafficking Unit contacted Blagg in December 2017 — months before the raid — and asked her to look into the gallery because the supervisor believed it might be selling ivory.

On Dec. 15 Blagg and a second agent went to the gallery on Prospect Street. They saw many pieces of art in the window that appeared to contain ivory and more inside the store. When they were inside, a salesman took them to a room in the back of the gallery closed off to the public that also contained art pieces apparently containing ivory.

Read more at San Diego Union-Tribune.

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