International arms dealer Viktor Bout has been indicted by federal authorities on a series of new charges, including counts of illegally purchasing U.S. cargo planes to ferry weapons to warring parties and regimes in Africa and the Middle East.
The new indictment, announced in New York and Washington Wednesday, comes as the United States steps up efforts to extradite Bout to New York from Thailand, where he has been jailed since 2008.
The indictment charges Bout, a Russian native, and his alleged American co-conspirator, Richard Chichakli, with the illegal purchase of a Boeing 727 and a Boeing 737 and with money laundering and wire fraud. Chichakli remains at large, authorities said.
Bout has been an international weapons trafficker since the 1990s, carrying out a massive weapons trafficking business by assembling a fleet of cargo planes to transport weapons to parts of Africa, the Middle East and South America.
According to the Justice Department, the arms that Bout has sold or brokered have fueled conflicts and supported regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
It sounds like a guy like this could actually interfere with the legitimate arms producers and sellers whose job it is to supply these regimes and dictatorships with weapons. Since the major players in that game are American companies, it's no wonder the U.S. wants to extradite him.
What's your opinion? Do you think we're missing the point when discussing the gun show loophole and straw purchasers and crooked gun dealers? Do you think all that's a distraction which diverts attention from the real culprits, the arms manufacturers?
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.