Ivory kingpin sentenced to 20 years

Feisal Ali Mohamed was convicted today in a court in Mombasa, Kenya for possession of over two tonnes of ivory seized during a 2014 law enforcement raid on the Kenyan coast.

He was sentenced to 20 years and ordered to pay a KS 20 million fine. Feisal had been listed by Interpol as one of the nine most wanted suspects for crimes against the environment.

Feisal’s conviction is a major victory for elephants as it is the first successful prosecution of a high-level poaching syndicate kingpin under Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation and Management Act. However, we must continue to remain vigilant in the fight to destroy poaching networks.

Criminal organizations have historically been largely considered domestic or regional in scope.  In those cases the arrest of a single key member such as Feisal was sometimes enough to dismantle the enterprise.  However, today’s global trafficking syndicates operate transnationally.

They are comprised of loosely affiliated, adaptive networks of smaller groups of individuals or cartels organized by access, influence and personal relationships. Aided by sophisticated locational and telecommunications technology, these groups can control large areas of geographic territory and communicate operations globally.

Understanding these networks is a critical first step in targeting them and effectively destroying them. This requires a comprehensive characterization of the nature of networks, their structure, components and purpose.  This is the precisely the work the IFAW tenBoma project in Kenya performs in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service. 

Available information from a variety of sources is collected, aggregated, and analyzed to model how the threat network operates. This model supports pattern, link, and social network analysis to identify the important relationships, capabilities, and vulnerabilities within the network. 

Once these factors are understood, targetable information is passed to KWS rangers and investigation teams conduct operations on the most critical nodes within the network; those nodes, that if neutralized, will have the greatest overall impact on the criminal enterprise. 

We applaud the work of all groups involved in the Feisal case—NGOs, the KWS, Kenyan Law Enforcement and Judiciary, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, the Tanzanian Government and INTERPOL.

We often say that ‘it takes a network to defeat a network’ and we are looking forward to continuing to build the counter poaching network through tenBoma. We are committed to defeating all organized criminal networks in Kenya so that the void that is left by Feisal is not filled by another and the criminal networks that reported to him are no longer able to prosper from the killing of iconic species.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy