MANHATTAN (CN) – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday unsealed an indictment accusing international arms dealer Viktor Bout of conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to foreign terrorists to kill Americans. Bout was arrested in Thailand one month ago; the United States is seeking his extradition.
Bout, an international arms dealer since the 1990s who uses a string of aliases, allegedly operates a fleet of cargo airplanes that have carried weapons to most war zones of the world, including Africa, South America and the Middle East.
The four-count indictment accuses him of selling arms to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – or FARC, to kill Americans in Colombia. The State Department has designated the FARC a foreign terrorist organization.
The U.S. Treasury Department placed Bout in 2004 prohibited U.S. citizens from dealing with Bout as a result of his alleged activities in the civil war in Liberia.
“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 ‘CSSs’), 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 U.S. Attorney’s Office here said in a news release.
“As described in the Indictment, during a covertly recorded meeting in Thailand on March 6, 2008, Bout stated to the CSs that he could arrange to airdrop the arms to the FARC in Colombia, and offered to sell two cargo planes to the FARC that could be used for arms deliveries. BOUT also provided a map of South America, and asked the CSs to show him American radar locations in Colombia. BOUT said that he understood that the CSs wanted the arms for use against American personnel in Colombia, and advised that the United States was also his enemy, stating that the FARC’s fight against the United States was also his fight. During the meeting, Bout also offered to provide people to train the FARC in the use of arms,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Bout is charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees, conspiracy to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile, and conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designation foreign terrorist organization.
Bout is probably best known to North Americans as the alleged model for Yuri Orlov, the character played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film, “Lord of War.”