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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

'Merchant Of Death' Viktor Bout Started An Unexpected Hobby In Prison

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The fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 was, in the main, a very good thing. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t bring with it its own set of problems, not the least of which was the fact that various Soviet weapons of all shapes and sizes — guns, bombs, guided missiles, the whole bit — fell into the wrong hands. Enter Viktor Bout: As The Economist reports, he was a cog in the Soviet machine who worked his way up to a high-ranking position in a Soviet armed forces division. He spoke multiple languages, owned several passports, and had done clandestine work in Africa. And when the Soviet Union fell, Bout knew whom to bribe and where to look in order to move Soviet weaponry. Before long, he’d earned the nickname “The Merchant of Death” for making as much as $6 billion from selling to the highest bidder.

The U.S. and other governments wanted a word. According to USA Today, he was finally nabbed in Thailand in 2008 following a sting led by U.S. operatives. In 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years and was eventually sent to the U.S. Penitentiary Marion, a medium-security federal lockup in Illinois.



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