A federal court has charged a Beverly Hills, California, auctioneer with trafficking in endangered rhinoceros horn.
Jacob Chait was indicted last week in a federal court in New York City, the U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday.
"Rhinoceros have no known predators other than humans, and yet, driven by the illegal trade in their horns, literally worth more than their weight in gold on the black market, rhinoceros are on their way to extinction," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Prosecutors say that between 2009 and 2012, Chait and his co-conspirators allegedly bought rhino horns and tried to sell them to foreign buyers in eight separate deals worth about $2.4 million.
They say he personally smuggled two black rhino horns into China.
If found guilty, Chait could face as much as five years in prison.
International treaties heavily restrict the global trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory.