Viktor Bout, Russian arms dealer known as "the Merchant of Death", was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday for attempting to sell weapons to Colombian terrorists who were targeting Americans.
This file photo taken on March 8, 2008 shows alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout waiting at a detention center at a criminal court in Bangkok. Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was flown out of Thailand on November 16, 2010 on a special jet to face trial in the United States, bringing to an end months of legal wrangling over his extradition. [Xinhua]
U.S. district judge Shira Scheindlin announced in Manhattan, New York that Bout faced a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum life sentence in prison. The judge also ordered a 15 million-U.S. dollar forfeiture.
Prosecutors said that Bout was ready to sell up to 20 million U. S. dollars in weapons including surface-to-air missiles to shoot down U.S. helicopters. The U.S. authorities also found that Bout has sold weapons to dictators and guerrilla forces in Africa, South America and the Middle East.
"Viktor Bout has been international arms trafficking enemy number one for many years, arming some of the most violent conflicts around the globe," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Bout was arrested in 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand where he was caught in a sting operation led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. He is thought to be the inspiration for Nicolas Cage's arms dealing character in the 2005 film "Lord of War".