Kenyan wanted in illegal ivory trade inquiry is arrested

“Mansour”, a notorious trader in rhino horn and ivory, is detained on arrival in Mombasa on board a flight of Kenyan nationals evacuated from Yemen

A trader infamous for being a key player in the illegal trade in rhino horn and ivory out of East Africa has been detained in Mombasa.

Abubakar Mansur Mohamed Surur, also known as Mansour, has been wanted by the United States for illegal trading in elephant ivory and rhino horn.

Mansour was on board a chartered flight which had just landed at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, carrying stranded Kenyan nationals who had been repatriated from Yemen. He was arrested immediately on alighting.

Wanted by the law

Mansour was wanted in the United States on account of conspiring to sell ten tonnes of elephant ivory and more than 181 kilograms (nearly 400 pounds) of rhinoceros horn between 2012 and 2019.

In a statement on its Twitter account on Wednesday, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation in Kenya wrote that Mohammed Surur “had been flagged” as a “wanted person” in the United States. It also confirmed the arrest.

According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Surur was involved with a transnational criminal enterprise, known as “the Enterprise”, based in Uganda and surrounding countries.

He and several others are believed to have conspired to sell, distribute and smuggle horn and ivory throughout the seven-year period.

Fewer elephants

More than 35 rhinoceroses and over 100 elephants are believed to have been poached illegally in the haul.

Officials in the United States have also confirmed that another co-defendant, a Liberian man who was arrested in Uganda, has been sent to the US. An extradition petition is also being considered for a Guinean man who remains in custody in Senegal.

A fourth defendant, also from Kenya, remains a fugitive.

Accomplices from China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam have been found to be involved in the illegal trade.

In the 1970s Africa had 1.3 million elephants but through poaching and trophy hunting only 500,000 remains today.

In Asia (largely Vietnam and China), the horn is ground and used in traditional Chinese medicine as a so-called panacea for various ailments. With the growth in demand for rhino horn, the price has shot up.

Nana Abena Boakye-Boateng

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

Al Jazeera BBC News
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