Infamous ivory, rhinoceros horn poacher and drug trafficker Abubakar Mansur Mohammed Surur alias Mansour was extradited from Kenya to New York over the weekend, coming just months after he was arrested at Moi International airport.
New York District Attorney Audrey Strauss revealed on Monday that Mansour is part of an international syndicate engaging in the illicit trade that has been evading law enforcement officers for years.
The suspect was arrested on July 29, 2020 by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) immediately when he landed at the airport after a chartered flight from Yemen.
Mansour is wanted in the US for allegedly conspiring to sell 10 tonnes of elephant ivory and more than 181kg of rhinoceros horn across a seven-year period.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has said the trafficker was part of a transnational criminal enterprise known as the “Enterprise” based in Uganda and surrounding countries.
Authorities believed Mansour and several others conspired to distribute, sell and smuggle the ivory and rhino horn between 2012 and 2019.
“…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. The excellent work of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the DEA has put an end to this operation,” said the New York District attorney.
Investigators believe he is a member of the Kromah network, a smuggling organisation that trades in drugs and illegal wildlife products.
The network shipped its goods out of ports in Pemba, Mozambique, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Mombasa.
In 2019, authorities in Uganda arrested the head of the network, Liberian national Moazu Kromah. In 2017, Kenyan police arrested two other key figures, brothers Ibrahim Akasha and Baktash Akasha. The brothers were extradited to the US, where they are now serving long-term jail sentences.
Abdi Hussein Ahmed, alias Abu Khadi, a citizen of Kenya, remains a fugitive.
The 60-year-old suspect is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and two counts of wildlife trafficking, which each carry a maximum sentence of five years; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years; and 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.