Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Viktor Bout Indicted on Charges of Seeking to Kill U.S. Citizens
The Justice Department today unsealed a four-count indictment of Russian weapons trafficker Viktor Bout, charging him with the following:

"Between November 2007 and March 2008, Bout agreed to sell to the FARC millions of dollars’ worth of weapons -- including surface-to-air missile systems (SAMs), armor piercing rocket launchers, AK-47 firearms, millions of rounds of ammunition, Russian spare parts for rifles, anti-personnel land mines, C-4 plastic explosives, night-vision equipment, “ultralight” airplanes that could be outfitted with grenade launchers and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Bout agreed to sell the weapons to two confidential sources working with the DEA (the CSs), who represented that they were acquiring these weapons for the FARC, with the specific understanding that the weapons were to be used to attack United States helicopters in Colombia."

The full indictment can be read here. Bout, known as The Merchant of Death and subject of a book by the same name by me and my co-author, Steve Braun, was arrested in Thailand on March 6.

He is still in prison outside Bangkok, and the US government, or at least parts of it, are pressing hard for his extradition. If convicted, Bout would face a life sentence.

As with his dealings with the Taliban, Bout was not bashful about promising to deliver lethal weapons to a terrorist group (the FARC, or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) have been on the US terrorist list since 1997 and on the EU list since 2001.

The day of his arrest, according to the indictment, Bout agreed to sell to confidential DEA sources 700-800 surface-to-air missiles; 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles; millions of rounds of ammunition; spare parts for the rifles; anti-personnel land mines and C-4 explosives; night vision equipment; "ultra-light plane which could be outfitted with missiles and grenade launchers; and unmanned aerial vehicles with a range of 200 to 300 kilometers.

Not a bad shopping list for $15 million to $20 million, as Bout requested.

During the meeting, Bout allegedly said that the "United States was also his enemy," and, when informed the weapons would be used to kill U.S. troops in Colombia, said the fight against the United States was also his fight, so he would supply the FARC with the weapons.

Perhaps that will be enough to put some spine into those waffling on the US side, hoping to negotiate Bout for some large strategic concession from Russia.

It may be time for them to recognize that Bout is a serious enough threat that he should be non-negotiable.

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