Viktor Bout Found Guilty of Trying to Sell Arms to the FARC

By Dialogo
November 04, 2011

On November 2, a U.S. jury found former Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout guilty of having agreed to sell arms to individuals he believed were guerrillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), with plans to attack U.S. soldiers.

Bout, a former Soviet Air Force officer whose story inspired the book Merchant of Death, was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008, in an undercover operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and extradited to the United States in 2010 to face terrorism-related charges.

The jury deliberated for almost a day before rendering its verdict in a federal court in Manhattan, in New York City.

Bout was found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and officials and one charge of conspiracy to sell anti-aircraft missiles and provide material support to a terrorist organization. The Russian citizen faces a sentence of between 25 years to life in prison.

“It was a tough case,” Bout’s attorney, Kenneth Kaplan, told reporters. “We gave it a good fight. The fight is not over. He has various legal options,” he added.

Kaplan said that he will appeal the conviction after sentencing, scheduled for February 8.

U.S. informants posed as FARC arms buyers and met with Bout in Thailand to purchase military weaponry, which the Russian showed himself ready to provide, according to prosecutors.

Two DEA informants who posed as FARC leaders testified against Bout at trial.

Andrew Smulian, the Russian’s former business partner, also testified after pleading guilty to participating in the agreement with the guerilla group.