A Kenyan man has been extradited to the United States to face federal charges in New York for allegedly trafficking rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory over the course of several years, prosecutors said Monday.
Mansur Mohamed Surur allegedly conspired with several other poachers and smugglers in the multi-million dollar scheme, which also included trafficking heroin, from 2012 to 2019, according to an indictment against him.
In one of the deals, Surur allegedly met with an informant working for the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York in 2017 and offered to sell him four rhinoceros horns.
In another deal in 2018, the informant asked to buy a black rhinoceros horn that would be shipped from Senegal to New York City’s Chinatown, according to the indictment.
Law enforcement authorities in New York seized one of the packages, which included an African mask with one of the horns, according to the complaint.
In addition to the illegal ivory smuggling, Surur allegedly worked with one of his cohorts to smuggle 10 kilograms of heroin into the New York City area.
“The enterprise is allegedly responsible for the illegal slaughter of dozens of rhinos and more than 100 elephants, both endangered species,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement Monday.
“The excellent work of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the DEA has put an end to this operation,” she added.
Surur faces a 35-year sentence if convicted on the charges. He’s expected to make an initial court appearance in Manhattan federal court Monday.