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Judge issues sentence in USVI coral smuggling case

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013

In 2011, Bhandari's company was ordered to forfeit dozens of jewelry items, sculptures and more than 13,600 pounds (6,000 kilograms) of raw black coral. Together they were worth about $2.17 million.

Gem Manufacturing also was ordered to pay a nearly $4.5 million fine, the largest ever at the time for non-seafood wildlife trafficking and the fourth-largest for any U.S. case involving illegal trade in wildlife.

Black coral is an organism that thrives in deep ocean water and grows on rocks like a plant. It can live for hundreds or thousands of years and can be harvested for jewelry and other purposes under strict trade regulations.