Breaking! Uganda Wildlife Poacher Sentenced To Over 5 Years In Prison For Trafficking Over $7 Million Worth Of Rhino Horn & Elephant Ivory

Moazu Kromah, a citizen of Liberia and resident of Uganda, was sentenced yesterday to 63 months in prison for conspiring to traffic millions of dollars of rhino horn and elephant ivory, both endangered species. This resulted in the illegal poaching of more than 35 rhinos and more than 100 elephants.

The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods. Kromah was previously extradited to the United States from Uganda on June 13, 2019, to face charges in this case. He has been detained since his arrival in the United States.

“The protection of endangered wildlife and natural resources remains a crucial and important priority for my office. This sentence demonstrates that those who are responsible for the decimation of global populations of endangered and threatened animals protected by international agreements will face serious consequences,” Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “This case also exemplifies our commitment, together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to work with our international partners to arrest and bring to justice in a U.S. courtroom those who commit these serious crimes abroad.”

Judge Woods remarked that he agreed that a significant sentence was necessary to send a “loud and clear message” that such large-scale wildlife trafficking warrants serious consequences.

According to documents filed in the case, as well as statements made in court proceedings:

Kromah and two of his co-conspirators, Amara Cherif, a citizen of Guinea, and Mansur Mohamed Surur, a Kenyan citizen, were members of a transnational criminal enterprise based in Uganda and surrounding countries that was involved in the large-scale trafficking and smuggling of rhino horns and elephant ivory, both protected wildlife species. Trade involving endangered or threatened species violates several U.S. laws, as well as international treaties implemented by certain U.S. laws.

From December of 2012 through May of 2019, Kromah, Cherif, and Surur conspired to transport, distribute, sell, and smuggle at least approximately 190 kilograms of rhino horns and at least approximately 10 tons of elephant ivory from various countries in East Africa, including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania, to buyers located in the United States and countries in Southeast Asia. In total, the estimated average retail value of the rhino horn involved in the conspiracy was at least approximately $3.4 million, and the estimated average retail value of the elephant ivory involved in the conspiracy was a minimum of $4 million.

Typically, the defendants exported the rhino horn and elephant ivory for delivery to foreign buyers in packaging that concealed the items in, among other things, pieces of art such as African masks and statues. The defendants received and deposited payments from foreign customers that were sent in the form of international wire transfers, some of which were sent through U.S. financial institutions, and paid in cash.

On or around March 16, 2018, law enforcement agents intercepted a package containing a black rhino horn sold by the defendants that was intended for a buyer represented to be in Manhattan. Between March and May of 2018, the defendants offered to sell additional rhino horns of varying weights, including some weighing up to approximately seven kilograms. Around July 17, 2018, law enforcement agents also intercepted a package containing two rhino horns weighing over five kilograms.

Kromah previously pled guilty on March 30, 2022, to one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and two counts of wildlife trafficking.

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