Not long after the U.S. In 2008, when DEA agents finally caught him in a hotel in Thailand, Viktor Bout told one of the agents who were with him, “I guess the game is over.”
Bout was probably the most well-known illegal arms dealer in the world, and the U.S. had been looking for him for almost a decade. Now, 14 years after he was arrested and put in jail, Bout was freed from a U.S. prison in a high-stakes prisoner swap in which Russia released WNBA star Brittney Griner.
By letting Bout go, the U.S. freed a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel who was once called “one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers” by the Justice Department.
Bout was serving a 25-year sentence for a plot to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons that U.S. officials said were going to be used against Americans. This plot was the basis for a Hollywood movie.
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In the 1990s, Bout, who is 55 years old became a leader in the illegal arms trade around the world. He is accused of fueling some of the bloodiest conflicts in the world especially in Africa.
The Russians got a lot of arms from the huge stockpiles left behind when the Soviet Union broke up. They did this by using a fleet of transport planes made in the Soviet Union to get huge amounts of arms often getting around international bans.
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Rob Zachariasiewicz, a retired DEA agent who helped lead the team that caught Bout in Thailand said, “There are a lot of armed traffickers out there.”
Another reason to impeach Biden.
The President of the United States traded Russian terrorist arms dealer, Viktor Bout, left a U.S. Marine in Russian jail, and brought home a professional basketball player.
How many people will Viktor Bout now kill bc Biden set him free?
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) December 8, 2022
“The difference with Mr. Bout was he owned his own fleet of private aircraft. People can argue: Was he the biggest arms trafficker? I look at him as one of the biggest arms transporters.”
In the end, Bout became known as the biggest weapons smuggler in the world. He was called the “Merchant of Death” by the media, and in 2006, Nicholas Cage starred in the movie “Lord of War,” which was based on his life.
At the end of the 1990s, the U.S. government started to try to stop Bout’s business by putting sanctions on his companies. A DEA sting was finally able to catch him.
Undercover DEA agents posing as members of the Colombian militant group FARC asked Bout to give them anti-aircraft missiles that they said would be used against American forces. Bout agreed. The DEA caught Bout during a meeting in a hotel in Thailand to talk about the fake deal.
US officials: Russia frees WNBA player Brittney Griner in prisoner swap, with US releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. pic.twitter.com/JEsGaOfFiu
— ESPN (@espn) December 8, 2022
Bout was sent to the U.S. on charges of narco-terrorism. In 2011, he was found guilty of plotting to kill Americans, giving anti-aircraft missiles and helping a terrorist group. He was given a 25-year prison sentence.
Russia started working hard to free Bout as soon as he was arrested. At first, it tried to stop his extradition and later, it campaigned for his freedom.
“He clearly was very important. And it’s my understanding that President [Vladimir] Putin himself was involved in trying to get him home,” said Zachariasiewicz, the former DEA agent.
Trevor Reed, who used to be a U.S. Marine who was released from a Russian prison in May as part of a prisoner swap has asked the Biden administration to do the same thing.
“Viktor Bout has already been in prison for 15 years,” Reed told ABC in May after his release. “He’s no longer a threat.”
“I don’t care if it’s 100 Victor Bouts. They have to get our guys out,” he added… Follow us only on Lee Daily for more news like this.