A multiagency team in Mombasa has arrested 60-year-old Mansur Mohamed Surur, aka “Mansour”, a Kenyan citizen and wanted fugitive in the US.
Surur is said to be wanted by several agencies for his involvement in trafficking of drugs and participating the illegal trade of rhino horns and elephant ivory, both protected wildlife species, valued at more than Sh700,000,000 ($7 million).
The crimes are said to have involved the illegal poaching of more than 35 rhinos and more than 100 elephants.
He was among 47 Kenyans stranded in Yemen who were returning home on a Chartered Skyward Express flight early Wednesday morning.
The Multiagency team of officers took him to the Moi International Airport police station for interrogation.
“Today morning at 01.00 hrs…holder of Passport number A2283881 and Kenyan ID card no.0069184 who had been flagged as wanted in the US for ivory related offences was arrested at the arrival terminals at Moi International Airport…He was subsequently handed over to Interpol Nairobi for further action,” a police report of the arrest reads.
In addition, Surur and two others were previously charged with money laundering, as well as participating in a conspiracy to distribute more than 10 kilogrammes of heroin.
According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Surur and Abdi Hussein Ahmed, aka “Abu Khadi,” are fugitives.
Surur is said to be a member of a transnational criminal enterprise based in Uganda and surrounding countries that was engaged in the large-scale trafficking and smuggling of rhino horns and elephant ivory.
Trade involving endangered or threatened species violates several US laws as well as international treaties.
From December 2012 through to May 2019, Surur, Ahmed and two others conspired to transport, distribute, sell and smuggle at least about 190 kilogrammes of rhino horn and at least 10 tonnes of elephant ivory.
The wildlife parts came from or involved various countries in East Africa including Uganda, DR Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania.
They were sold to buyers located in the United States and countries in Southeast Asia.
Typically, they exported the rhino horns and elephant ivory in packaging that concealed the items such as pieces of art like African masks and statues.
They allegedly received and deposited payments from foreign customers that were sent in the form of international wire transfers, some which were sent through US financial institutions, and paid in cash.
Separately, from August 2018 through May 2019, Surur and Ahmed conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than approximately 10 kilogrammes of heroin to a buyer located in New York.