Press Releases


Thursday April 5, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that international arms dealer VIKTOR BOUT was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons, including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles and over 20,000 AK-47s to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”), a designated foreign terrorist organization based in Colombia.  BOUT understood that the weapons would be used to kill Americans in Colombia.  On November 2, 2011, BOUT was convicted on all four counts for which he was charged after a three-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Viktor Bout has been international arms trafficking enemy number one for many years, arming some of the most violent conflicts around the globe.  He was finally brought to justice in an American court for agreeing to provide a staggering number of military grade weapons to an avowed terrorist organization committed to killing Americans.  Today’s sentence is a fitting coda for this career arms trafficker of the most dangerous order.”

According to the Indictment and evidence presented at the trial:

Since the 1990s, BOUT has been an international weapons trafficker.  As a result of his weapons trafficking activities in Liberia, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control within the Department of Treasury placed him on the Specially Designated Nationals list in 2004.  The designation prohibits any transactions between BOUT and U.S. nationals, and freezes any of his assets that are within the jurisdiction of the United States.

Between November 2007 and March 2008, BOUT agreed to sell millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to the FARC, including 700-800 surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), over 20,000 AK-47 firearms, 10 million rounds of ammunition, five tons of C-4 plastic explosives, “ultralight” airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers, and unmanned aerial vehicles.  BOUT agreed to sell the weapons to two confidential sources working with the DEA (the “CSs”), who represented that they were acquiring them for the FARC, with the specific understanding that the weapons were to be used to attack U.S. helicopters in Colombia.

During a covertly recorded meeting in Thailand on March 6, 2008, BOUT stated to the CSs that he could arrange to airdrop the arms to the FARC in Colombia, and offered to sell them two cargo planes that could be used for arms deliveries.  He also provided a map of South America and asked the CSs to show him American radar locations in Colombia.  BOUT said that he understood that the CSs wanted the arms to use against American personnel in Colombia, and advised that, “we have the same enemy,” referring to the United States.  He also stated that the FARC’s fight against the United States was also his fight and that he had been “fighting the United States…for ten to fifteen years.” During the meeting, he also offered to provide people to train the FARC in the use of the arms.

The evidence presented at trial included a recording of the March 6, 2008 meeting between BOUT, the CSs, his former associate Andrew Smulian, and others.  Smulian was charged along with BOUT in March 2008 and pled guilty in July 2008.  Smulian cooperated with the Government and, along with the two CSs, provided testimony at the trial.

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In addition to his prison term, Judge Scheindlin sentenced BOUT to five years of supervised released.  She also ordered him to forfeit $15 million and pay a $400 special assessment fee.

BOUT was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 based on a Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.  He was subsequently charged in a four-count Indictment in April 2008 and extradited to the Southern District of New York in November 2010.  At trial, he was convicted of (1) conspiring to kill U.S. nationals; (2) conspiring to kill U.S. officers and employees; (3) conspiring to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles; and (4) conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and thanked the Royal Thai Police.  He also thanked the Romanian National Police, the Romanian Prosecutor’s Office Attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the Korps Politie Curaçao of the Netherlands Antilles, and the Danish National Police Security Services for their cooperation, and thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anjan Sahni and Brendan R. McGuire are in charge of the prosecution.









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