Wanted drug suspect extradited to US to face charges (Kenya)


Cyrus Ombati, The Star

Date Published

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A wanted fugitive who was arrested in Nairobi has been extradited to the USA.

Badru Abdul Aziz Saleh, an international fugitive wanted for trafficking in narcotics, was Thursday night extradited to New York to face trial.

The extradition of the 46-year-old suspect follows his arrest by DCI detectives on May 31, after a cash reward of $1,000,000 USD (Sh120 million) was offered by the U.S government for information regarding his whereabouts.

According to a U.S. federal indictment, in or about August 2018 through about May 2019, Saleh and others who were identified during a wildlife trafficking investigation conspired to distribute at least 10 kilograms of heroin to a buyer located in New York.

After several meetings, Saleh and his co-conspirators delivered the first kilogram of heroin to a buyer in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to the indictment, in June 2019, Saleh fled from law enforcement, along with his co-conspirators, before completing the remaining heroin transaction. He was subsequently arrested by DCI detectives for drug trafficking in Kenya on July 11, 2019, and arraigned at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Law Courts, a day after.

During Saleh’s judicial process in the country, he was released on Sh200,000 bail. Saleh disappeared and became a fugitive.

In June 2021, following a joint investigation of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York returned an indictment charging Saleh and other coconspirators with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. 

The suspect was extradited to the United States of America, aboard a Kenya Airways flight destined to New York. He looked threatened as he was led to the flight.

His accomplice, Mansur Mohamed Surur, pleaded guilty to charges in court. He was part of an “international conspiracy” responsible for the slaughter of more than 100 elephants and dozens of rhinos, federal prosecutors in New York said.

It allegedly amounts to an estimated $7.4m amassed over seven years.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, had announced that Surur pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, both endangered wildlife species, which involved the illegal poaching of more than approximately 35 rhinoceros and more than 100 elephants.

Surur also pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin to a buyer located in the United States.

Two of Surur’s co-defendants, Moazu Kromah, (Ayoub or Kampala Man) a citizen of Liberia, and Amara Cherif (Bamba Issiaka), a citizen of Guinea, previously pleaded guilty on March 30, 2022, and April 27, 2022, respectively to conspiring to traffic in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, as well as substantive charges of trafficking in rhinoceros horns.