Suspected Russian Arms Dealer Held on Terrorism Charges
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
A suspected Russian arms dealer was ordered held without bail Wednesday on charges that he supported terrorists who wanted to overthrow the Columbian government and kill Americans. Through an interpreter, Vicktor Bout pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Federal court. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says Bout's arrest showed he's not beyond the reach of the law.
The indictment claimed that, for nearly twenty years, Bout shipped weapons and military equipment to insurgents in countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East. Bout said he's a legitimate businessman.
DEA Chief of Operations Tom Harrigan said Bout was a prolific arms dealer.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Harrigan said that before his arrest, Bout oversaw operations capable of delivering enough weapons to launch rebellions, fuel revolutions and slaughter untold thousands of people and was an accessory to violence on a scale beyond comprehension.
The former Russian military officer is accused of trying to sell arms to drug enforcement agents posing as members of the Columbian terrorist group FARC. Bout is also accused of trying to sell surface to air missiles, land mines, ammunition, plastic explosives, AK-47's, un-manned aerial vehicles and other military hardware and services to undercover DEA agents. Harrigan said that, based on recorded conversations, Bout said he preferred murdering Americans.
Bout was initially apprehended in Thailand in 2008, but Russia blocked his extradition to the United States until Tuesday night.
Bout faces four separate terrorism charges.