Who Is Viktor Bout and What Did He Do? Explained

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Viktor Bout (credits: CNN)

Viktor Bout is a former Soviet Union-born arms dealer who has been labeled the “Merchant of Death” for his role in supplying weapons to various groups and countries around the world. He has been linked to multiple wars, insurgencies, and other violent activities in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Bout was born in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in 1967 and studied linguistics at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, which gave him the opportunity to travel and work abroad. After completing his studies, he became a businessman, trading in both oil and weapons. He gained access to the arms market through members of the Russian mafia, eventually becoming one of the largest arms dealers in the world.

Bout used a variety of methods to move weapons and ammunition including air cargo, shipping containers, and even submarines. He often used fake documents and false identities to conceal his activities and was known to use a number of front companies to facilitate his arms deals. He was also known to have a network of contacts in more than 40 countries, which he used to acquire and deliver weapons to his clients.

Viktor Bout being escorted by US DEA.

Bout’s activities were exposed in 2001 after a series of articles in The New York Times revealed his involvement in supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The United Nations also accused him of supplying weapons to rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

In 2008, Bout was arrested in Thailand in a joint operation between the United States and Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation. He was charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and to provide material support to terrorists. He was extradited to the United States in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012.

Bout’s case has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries, and feature films, including the 2009 Hollywood movie Lord of War. His story serves as a cautionary tale of the global arms trade and its consequences. Despite his conviction, Bout is still seen as a symbol of the illegal arms trade, and his legacy will likely live on for years to come.

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Jake Bohall

By Jake Bohall

Jake Bohall, Co-Founder of Hive Digital and SEO Consultant, is an entrepreneur at heart. He discovered Hive Digital as a client seeking marketing advice, and quickly fell in love with the search marketing industry and it’s ever-changing environment.

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