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March 7 2008
And Viktor Vasilyevich Bout, 41, who name is usually preceded by ‘The Merchant of Death’ or ‘Lord of War’, looked as if he did not have a care in the world as he was paraded before the press at Thai police headquarters in Bangkok.
According to the Justice Department in Washington Bout and his colleague Andrew Smulian, who is on the run, told DEA agents they had 100 surface to air missiles ready, plus helicopters and armour piercing rockets. He could drop them into Columbia by parachute.
March 6, 2008
DEA Investigation Nabs Victor Bout for Conspiracy to Provide SAMs to a Foreign Terrorist Organization
In between his meetings with the CSs, Smulian spoke to Bout over a cellphone provided to him by one of the CSs at the direction of the DEA. During one of these conversations, Bout and Smulian discussed the $5 million delivery fee for the weapons.
Bout and Smulian are charged with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment.
The U.S. plans to pursue the extradition of the defendants from Thailand.
There must be a degree of panic among parts of the Russian intel structure that Bout could sink them all if he is not brought back home.
As my friend Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council deputy who led the effort against Bout for the Clinton and Bush administrations, told the Los Angeles Times,
Bout “really needs to come into U.S. custody quickly. Otherwise, there’s ample opportunity for others to mess around.”
In 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush froze Bout's assets in various countries. Those assets, mainly small airlines, were estimated to be worth $6 billion by his business partner Andrey Smulyan. That year, a plane belonging to Bout and registered in Kyrgyzstan was photographed by the Associated Press in the rebel-control airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, carrying a load of hand-launch missiles.
Smulyan was arrested in Bangkok along with Bout, but later released. He is listed in U.S. documents as the contact through whom U.S. agents posing as FARC representatives set up a meeting. Smulyan's current whereabouts are unknown.
Smulian spoke to Bout over a cellphone provided to him by one of the CSs at the direction of the DEA.
So why was Viktor in Thailand? Well, there are some possible explanations beyond the CTB theory that it was something to do with the Burmese junta, or the Chinese, or someone.
Specifically, there are reasons to think that South-East Asia might have been the next stop in the VB caravan, after Ostend, South Africa, and the UAE. Consider Imtrec Aviation; a regular on the various war routes out of Sharjah, they’re based (officially) in Cambodia but the aircraft, as ever, are based in Sharjah. Antonov-12 serial no. 1347907, for example, went from Aeroflot back in the days of respectability, via East Line or Avial and a spell on lease to the World Food Programme, to Aerocom, the Moldovan-flagged operation that was shut down after one of its planes was seized for smuggling coc aine through Belize, that shared aircraft with Jet Line International, Asterias Commercial, and ATI, and that was at the heart of the missing Bosnian guns case.
Thai police say the rising number of arrests and deportations proves they are making progress in fighting international crime.
Immigration officials say 329 people were deported in 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available, up from 207 in 2002.
But experts say criminals will continue to be drawn to Thailand and other developing countries in Southeast Asia because of lax law enforcement.
“It’s rooted very deeply in the issue of official corruption that allows not just arms dealers, but paedophiles and other people fleeing their own countries, to use Thailand and other developing countries as a safe haven,” said Sunai Phasuk, a researcher with Human Rights Watch.
“Someone like this Russian guy or terrorists or extremists benefit from loopholes in immigration law.”
Fugitives are supported in Thailand by a well-developed network of forgers who can provide fake travel documents, he noted. – AFP
they had 100 surface to air missiles ready, plus helicopters and armour piercing rockets. He could drop them into Columbia by parachute.