Fatal error that got ivory king on the run arrested

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Mansur Mohamed in the dock at Milimani law courts in Nairobi on September 28, last year.

Mansur Mohamed Surur knew his fate had been sealed in a New York courtroom on May 7, 2019. On this day, an indictment was returned and filed in the United States district court for the southern District of New York, charging Mansur with violating criminal laws of the US.

“Surur, an African-based trafficker of wildlife and drugs, along with others both known and unknown, has been part of a transnational criminal conspiracy that began in or about at least December 2012, which is based in the Republic of Uganda and surrounding countries and which has engaged in the large-scale trafficking and smuggling of rhino horns and elephant ivory,” read the indictment.

Ten days later, on May 17, 2019, the court issued a warrant of arrest for a man who law enforcement agencies believed to be one of the biggest wildlife traffickers in the world. At that time, Mansur, who had been in the illegal game business since 2012, was in Kampala.

“This is therefore to command you forthwith to arrest the said Mansur Mohamed Surur alias Mansour and bring him before me or any other magistrate to be dealt with according to Law, for which this shall be your warrant,” read the warrant of arrest.

By this time, Mansur, whose occupation on legal documents states his profession as a driver, was spending his time between Mombasa, Eldoret and Uganda among friends, family and business acquaintances.

For the next few months he did this successfully, evading arrest, sneaking in and out of Kenya to Kampala via the Busia border. In August 2019, the noose tightened when Interpol joined the hunt for Mansur by issuing a warrant of arrest.

Interpol on the hunt

“Interpol Nairobi shares with you intelligence of the above captioned Kenyan individuals wanted by the government of the United States for serious crimes…the duo are linked to transnational network of criminals dealing and trafficking drugs, elephant tusks and rhino horn,” Interpol wrote in a Memo dated August 8, 2019. With Interpol on the hunt for Mansur, it became hard for him to slip in and out of Uganda as he pleased.

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