Kenyan man pleads guilty to ivory, drug trafficking in US

He was involved in the illegal poaching of more than 35 rhinoceros and more than 100 elephants. [iStockphoto]

A Kenyan man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to large scale trafficking of rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory in a United States Federal court.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Mansur Mohamed Surur, was involved in the illegal poaching of more than 35 rhinoceros and more than 100 elephants.

Surur, 61, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin to a buyer located in the United States.

His co-defendants Moaza Kromah, a citizen of Liberia, and Guinean, Amara Cherif, pleaded guilty on March 30, 2022 and April 27, 2022, respectively, to conspiring to the trafficking in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory.

They also had substantive charges of trafficking rhinoceros horns. 

The remaining defendants in the case are Badru Abdul Saleh and Abdi Hussein Ahmed, who are both Kenyan citizens.

The United States Attorney's office says Saleh was arrested and is in custody in Kenya.

His interception came a week after the United States Government placed a Sh116 million bounty on both Saleh and Hussein's head.

The US Attorney, Damian William, says the protection of endangered wildlife resources remains a crucial and important priority to his office.

"These defendants were responsible for furthering an industry that illegally slaughters species protected by international agreements around the world.  One of these defendants also engaged in a narcotics conspiracy involving a large quantity of heroin.

"Thanks to the tireless efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, these defendants have now pled guilty to the serious and destructive crimes they committed," William said.

Last year, on January 26, Surur had pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking tons of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns.

He also denied charges of money laundering and drug dealing and was detained without bail.