Kwale county gov’t staffer arrested for ivory possession


Kwale county gov't staffer arrested for ivory possession
Joseph Mtoi Kuri, 53, was arrested over the weekend with 12 pieces of Ivory believed to have been harvested off three elephants at the Kuranze Ranch in Kwale. Photo: Citizen Digital

Police officers in Kwale are detaining 53-year-old Joseph Mtoi Kuri who was nabbed with 12 pieces of ivory with an estimated street value of Ksh.1 million.

According to preliminary investigations, the suspect who works for the County Government of Kwale in Kinango had been trailed a joint team of Kenya Wild Life (KWS) Officers and detectives from the DCI.

KWS Kwale boss Omar Mwaichande confirmed the incident, saying the suspect had 12 pieces of ivory weighing 35 kilograms.

Detectives believe that after obtaining the ivory from the Kuranze ranch, he diced it into 12 smaller pieces, which were later discovered at his home.

He will be arraigned in court on Monday as the investigation continues.

Earlier in February, a senior cop from the Rift Valley Regional Police headquarters was among three suspects who were arrested for ivory possession.

Senior Sergeant Charles Kandagor Kipkulei and two other suspects were intercepted following an anonymous tip-off to police in Kabarnet.

“The trio were intercepted as they drove towards Oinobmoi from Barwessa in Baringo,” a statement from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations read.

The suspects are currently being held at Kabarnet Police Station as investigations continue. Last month, two men were sentenced to five years in prison or a fine of Ksh. 1million each for being in possession of elephant tusks.

The tusks were found to be worth Ksh. 2.85 million.

And in another similar case, a Kenyan citizen denied trafficking tons of ivory and rhino horns at a U.S court.

Mansur Mohamed Surur was detained without bail a day after his extradition from Kenya.

According to a statement published on the U.S. Department of Justice website, Mansur was arrested by Kenyan authorities on July 29, 2020 in Mombasa.

He is facing charges of conspiracy to traffic rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, both endangered wildlife species.

The crime is said to have involved illegal poaching of more than 35 rhinoceros and over 100 elephants.

“Mansur Mohamed Surur is alleged to be a member of an international conspiracy to traffic in rhino horns, elephant ivory, and heroin,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

Mansur and his co-defendant Moan Kromah from Liberia reportedly agreed to export the rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory for delivery to foreign buyers in packaging concealed as African masks and statues.

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Story By Nicky Gitonga
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