Wanted Kenyan fugitive Mansur Surur, alias Mansour, has been arrested at Mombasa Airport after landing from Yemen.
Surur is wanted in the US over links to illegal rhino horn and elephant ivory trade and is also a member of a gang known as African Criminal Enterprise which deals with large-scale trafficking of rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory and heroin distribution.
Surur was charged alongside his Kenyan counterpart Abdi Hussein Ahmed, Moazu Kromah alias Ayoub alias Kampala Man from Liberia and Amara Cherif alias Bamba Issiaka from Guinea.
In a media statement from the US State Department of Justice dated June June 13, US said that the four were charged in an indictment for participating in a conspiracy to traffic in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, both protected wildlife species, valued at more than $7 million (Ksh700 million).The horns were obtained from illegal poaching of more than approximately 35 rhinoceros and more than approximately 100 elephants.
“In addition, Kromah, Cherif and Surur were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Surur and Ahmed were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 10 kilograms of heroin,” the statement read in part.
Surur and Ahmed were charged in absentia, and have remained fugitives until Surur was arrested in Kenya.
The transnational criminal enterprise, according to investigations, is based in Uganda and surrounding countries and was engaged in the large-scale trafficking and smuggling of rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, both protected wildlife species.
The gang has operated East African countries since 2012, and it is estimated that it has smuggled at least approximately 190 kilograms of rhinoceros horns and at least approximately 10 tons of elephant ivory from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania, to buyers located in the United States and countries in Southeast Asia.
“Typically, the defendants exported and agreed to export the rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory for delivery to foreign buyers, including those represented to be in Manhattan, in packaging that concealed the rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory in, among other things, pieces of art such as African masks and statues. The defendants received and deposited payments from foreign customers that were sent in the form of international wire transfers, some which were sent through U.S. financial institutions, and paid in cash,” the statement added.
Kromah was arrested in Uganda on June 12, 2019, and expelled to the United States. He was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker in June and detained.
Cherif was arrested in Senegal on June 7, 2019, and remains in custody in Senegal pending a process through which his extradition, deportation or other lawful removal to the United States is being considered by Senegalese authorities.
The sale of heroine in the US carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.