A Kenyan man was on Monday extradited to the US to face charges of trafficking elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns worth millions of dollars.
According to US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mansur Mohamed Surur, 60, is accused of being involved in illegal poaching of more than 100 elephants and more than 35 rhinos.
In a statement, the US federal prosecutor said Surur is one of four men accused of plotting to smuggle up to 10 tonnes of ivory and at least 190kg of rhino horns valued at more than Sh700 million.
The four suspects face charges of colluding to smuggle the ivory and rhino horns from a several African countries to buyers in the US and Southeast Asia from December 2012 and May 2019.
Detectives in New York revealed that the ivory and horns were concealed in pieces of art including African masks and statues.
Surur was apprehended by Kenyan security officials in Mombasa County in July last year and he was expected to be arraigned before a US judge in the course of Monday.
The Kenyan has also been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and heroin distribution and the latter might see him get a life sentence if convicted.
Two of Surur’s co-accused, a Guinean and a Liberian were apprehended in 2019 while the fourth remains at large even as Surur unsuccessfuly fought his extradition from Kenya through the courts last year.
Heightened poaching activities in Kenya and other African states fuelled by the high demand for ivory and rhino horns, especially in Asia, has drastically reduced African elephant populations.
In Asia, many well-connected individuals are willing to pay huge sums of money for a substance made from ivory and rhino horns, which is revered as traditional medicine for various ailments.