California auctioneer charged with smuggling endangered rhino horns

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A California auctioneer was indicted in New York on federal charges of conspiring to smuggle endangered rhinoceros horns.

Jacob Chait, the head of acquisitions and auctioneer of a Beverley Hills, Calif., gallery and auction house, and his co-conspirators allegedly purchased rhinoceros horns and taxidermy mounts in the United States and attempted to sell them to foreign buyers, according to the Justice Department. Eight separate or attempted deals involved 15 rhinoceros horns that were worth an estimated $2.4 million.

In one alleged incident, Chait, 34, personally smuggled two endangered black rhino horns to China in his luggage.

A federal grand jury in Manhattan returned a one-count indictment on Feb. 15 against Chait.