NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, has confirmed the arrival of Mansur Mohamed Surur, a Kenyan ivory trafficking suspect extradited on Monday.
Surur was on the wanted list for large scale trafficking of rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory, and heroin distribution.
The 60-year-old was arrested by police in Mombasa in July 2020 and according to the indictment charges, he allegedly conspired to smuggle at least 190 kilograms of rhinoceros horns and at least 10 tons of elephant ivory valued at more than $7 million.
He is alleged to be a member of a transnational criminal enterprise based in Uganda that was engaged in the large-scale trafficking and smuggling of protected wildlife species
“Mansur Mohamed Surur is alleged to be a member of an international conspiracy to traffic in rhino horns, elephant ivory, and heroin. The enterprise is allegedly responsible for the illegal slaughter of dozens of rhinos and more than 100 elephants, both endangered species,” Strauss said.
Surur faces one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and two counts of wildlife trafficking, each carrying a maximum sentence of five years.
“The defendants exported and agreed to export the rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory for delivery to foreign buyers in packaging that concealed the rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory in pieces of art such as African masks and statues,” Strauss said in a statement released on Monday.
“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,” she added.
The suspect will also be charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering(carries a maximum sentence of 20 years), one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The US Attorney lauded the Kenyan Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution who assisted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the law enforcement authorities and conservation partners in Uganda throughout the investigation.
Surur’s co-defendants include Liberian Citizen Moazu Kromah, Guinea citizen Bamba Issiaka and another Kenyan citizen Abu Khadi (who remains a fugitive).
He expected to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman on Tuesday. His case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods.