A Kenyan man has pleaded not guilty in a US court to trafficking illegal ivory and rhino horn. Mansur Mohamed Surur was part of an “international conspiracy” responsible for the slaughter of more than 100 elephants and dozens of rhinos, federal prosecutors in New York say
It allegedly amounts to an estimated $7.4m (£5.4m) amassed over seven years, some exports were hidden inside “pieces of arts such as African masks and statues”, court documents allege. Money was paid to and from foreign customers by “international wire transfers, some which were sent through US financial institutions”, prosecutors say. Mr Surur was arrested last year in the Kenyan city of Mombasa and extradited to the US to face trial in New York, he also faces charges of money laundering and drug dealing. He and three others – Amara Cherif from Guinea, Moazu Kromah of Liberia, and Abdi Hussein Ahmed of Kenya – are accused of agreeing illegal ivory sales with buyers in Manhattan, as well as others in south-east Asia.
They are all now in the US except Mr Ahmed who “remains a fugitive”, the US Department of Justice says. Phone calls and messages in which three of the four men allegedly discuss pricing and payment methods with a customer are cired in court documents. It is alleged that their network was based in Uganda but involved other countries, among them the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania.