Victor Bout

Delincuencia Organizada y Violenta, Trafico de Armas y Explosivos, Redes de tráfico de Drogas y Personas, No Proliferación ADM's, Tecnologías de Doble Uso, Blanqueo de Capitales, Contrabando
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Victor Bout

Mensaje por Loopster » 10 Ene 2007 13:10

El hombre en quien se ha basado la película Warlord.

Viktor Anatolyevich Bout, el Comerciante de la Muerte


Un ex-agente del KGB especialista en idiomas y con una paranoia aguda sobre su seguridad. Ronda los cuarenta años, vive en los Emiratos Árabes Unidos (aunque se dice que también en Rusia, o Bélgica) y maneja infinidad de identidades falsas. Hizo su imperio del tráfico de armas sacando de Ucrania toneladas de armamento en aviones de transporte que compró durante la caida de la URSS a precio de saldo. Entre sus hazañas figura el vender su mercancia ambos bandos a la vez, y luego revender la información de que armamento cuenta cada contrincante.

Ha trabajado en Sierra Leona, Congo, Liberia. Mozambique, Senegal, Sureste Asiático, Afganistán, Uzbekistán y ahora... Irak!, pues una de sus empresas tiene un contrato de suministro de combustible para la USAF (tiene cojones el tema).

Se le relaciona con Chris Huber y varios cabecillas del tráfico de armas a nivel mundial que se hicieron fuertes en el régimen de Charles Taylor en Liberia, y podría estar protegido por el FSB. Para rizar el rizo, un tal Chichackly que está reclamado por el FBI asegura que Bout no existe y es un invento de la DIA y el DoD para traficar con armas a nivel mundial. De todas formas este hombre es demasiado famoso para seguir operando en primera línea, y se rumorea que junto a su padre maneja su imperio a través de dos hombres, un inglés con pasaporte suizo y otro del que solo se sabe que maneja muchos idiomas.


Información que maneja la ONU sobre las identidades de Bout.

Nombre: BOUT Viktor Anatoljevitch

Nombres alternativos: BUTT, BONT, BUTTE, BOUTOV, SERGITOV ,Vitali


Nacido el: 13 JAN 1967 (13 JAN 1970)


Pasaportes: 21N0532664; 29N0006765; 21N0557148; 44N3570350


El tipo se cuida, lo último que he leido es que vive en Moscú a todo tren y bajo protección de varios ministros rusos y oficiales del FSB. Puede que incluso se levante la orden de captura internacional sobre él, por los "servicios" que presta ahora a USA.


A Bout se le ha relacionado en España con una agencia de transporte que operaba en Gibraltar y con varios pilotos especializados en contrabando detenidos en Madrid y Andalucía.


Imágenes posteadas por KS:

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chuski
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Mensaje por chuski » 01 Ene 2008 22:24

Estoy leyendo el libro Los Señores de las sombras de Daniel Estulin.
Habla sobre el tal Victor y de muchas cosas mas. Os lo recomiendo.

Un saludo

CHUSKI

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Mensaje por Loopster » 02 Ene 2008 01:39

Sobre Bout hay un libro que a primera vista parece bastante bueno, se llama "Merchant of Death", escrito por Douglas Farah y Stephen Braun, que sigue a Bout desde sus comienzos en Angola trabajando para la URSS hasta su caza internacional y su papel en la GWOT y la posguerra en Iraq.

Imagen
http://www.merchantofdeathbook.com/

Lo tenga en la wishlist para Reyes :roll:
Cry havoc and unleash the hawgs of war - Otatsiihtaissiiststakio piksi makamo ta psswia

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Mensaje por Loopster » 06 Mar 2008 17:45

Con lo tranquilo que estaba este hombre en Rusia, bien protegido por los suyos... en fin, Bout arrestado en Tailandia, al parecer por suministrar armas a las FARC.

Imagen
Russian Viktor Bout is escorted by Thai plain cloth police officer at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok, Thailand, 06 March 2008.Bout, one of the world's most notorious arms dealers was arrested Thursday in Bangkok on allegations that he supplied Colombian rebels with arms and explosives, Thai police said
Cry havoc and unleash the hawgs of war - Otatsiihtaissiiststakio piksi makamo ta psswia

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Mensaje por kilo009 » 06 Mar 2008 17:57

Son cosas raras o al tailandés se le ve algo raro en el bolso :roll:
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Mensaje por Loopster » 06 Mar 2008 19:30

Noticia en en NYT:

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/world/europe/07dealer.html?em&ex=1204952400&en=eaf26d5f808f7502&ei=5087%0A

Major Arms Dealer Arrested in Thailand
By SETH MYDANS and RAYMOND BONNER

BANGKOK — One of the world’s most notorious arms dealers, suspected of supplying weapons to the Taliban and Al Qaeda and of pouring huge arms shipments into Africa’s civil wars with his own private air fleet, was arrested by Thai authorities in a hotel here Thursday. His capture was prompted by a tipoff from the United States in connection with the procurement of weapons for the Colombian FARC rebels.

The Justice Department said that federal prosecutors in New York would unseal criminal charges against the arms dealer, Viktor Bout, 41, and one of his associates later Thursday, charging them with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Such a step would mean that American prosecutors think it likely Mr. Bout will be brought to the United States to stand trial.

Mr. Bout, who is wanted by the police in many countries, is a former Soviet Air Force officer. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, he built a network of air cargo companies in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the United States, according to the United States Treasury,.

United Nations reports and other investigations have concluded that Mr. Bout may have run the world’s largest arms-smuggling network. Peter Hain, a former British minister for Europe, who investigated the arms-for-diamonds trade, has called him “Africa’s chief merchant of death.”

In 2005, he was described by Amnesty International as “the most prominent foreign businessman” involved in trafficking arms to nations that are embargoed by the United Nations. Mr. Bout, who also goes by the first names Victor and Vic, was said to be the inspiration for the film, “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, about an unscrupulous arms trafficker.

Investigators of his businesses say he has used his private air network to transport weapons from Soviet-era stockpiles of tanks, helicopters and weapons into international conflicts around the world including in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Mr. Bout’s arrest in Thailand came after a Colombian military raid into Ecuador on Saturday, during which the Colombian Army killed 24 guerrillas and obtained a computer laptop belonging to a senior FARC rebel commander. It was not immediately clear whether the arrest and the seizure of information on the laptop were related.

The arrest came on a tip from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency that Mr. Bout was traveling to Thailand, said Police Col. Petcharat Sengchai of the Crime Suppression Division, who led the arresting team.

Colonel Petcharat said Mr. Bout, who is a Russian citizen, was wanted for “the procurement of weapons and explosives for Colombian rebels," referring to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a leftist insurgency that has been fighting Colombia’s government for decades and is known to fund itself partly through the cocaine trade.

The police said Mr. Bout had been arrested at noon at the Silom Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok and was being held in the offices of the Crime Suppression Division. His assets and front companies were targeted by the Treasury in 2005 because of his connections to Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia who faces charges of war crimes.

A security analyst in Bangkok, who had spoken to the Thai authorities and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bout had been in Thailand since January and was regularly changing hotels. He was arrested during a meeting with someone from Russia or Eastern Europe, the analyst said, and American counter-terrorism officials were interrogating him. The analyst said the Thai government was anxious to get him out of the country, and the American authorities were anxious to get him as well.

A mythology grew up around him, but in 2002 he appeared abruptly on a Moscow radio station, Ekho Moskvy news radio, insisting on the air that he was innocent, and had never had contact with Taliban or Al Qaeda representatives. He said that the accusations against him “resemble more a script for a Hollywood thriller.”

“I can say only one thing: I have never supplied or done anything and I have never been in contact with either Taliban representatives or Al Qaeda representatives,” Mr. Bout said.

According to Brian Johnson-Thomas, an arms trafficking researcher in Britain, Mr. Bout has been selling arms to the FARC for the last year to 18 months. He said the weapons were mostly AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, and possibly some surface-to-air missiles.

The weapons came from Central Asia, mostly Kazakhstan, Mr. Johnson-Thomas said. He said Mr. Bout had over 40 planes, and that many of them were registered in Equitorial Guinea.

The arms reached the FARC via Paraguay, then through Argentina and Uruguay, said Mr. Johnson-Thomas, who returned recently from a research trip to South America. Mr. Bout’s planes “don’t return empty,” he said. They return to Africa loaded with drugs, which are then shipped into Europe. "It’s guns in, drugs out," he said.

In February 2002, Belgium issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Bout on money laundering charges. At the time, the Belgian judge-prosecutors office said that Mr. Bout was believed to have used a small airport on the North Sea near Ostend, Belgium, as his western air-smuggling hub. He flew planes from there to central Europe to load up with arms, and then to Africa or Afghanistan.

Many of the arms he supplied originally came from Bulgaria and Romania, and were loaded aboard with false end-user certificates to prevent the United Nations from discovering that they were bound for arms-embargoed countries, the Belgium authorities said.

Mr. Bout, who was born in Tajikistan and educated at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, is said to speak six languages and to have started in the arms trade when his air force unit was disbanded with the breakup of the Soviet Union. At the time, many cargo plane crews left with their aircraft and hired themselves out.

In 2002 he was described as having homes in Russia, Rwanda and in the United Arab Emirates, as well as one in Johannesburg.

Seth Mydans reported from Bangkok, and Raymond Bonner from London. Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York and David Johnston contributed reporting from Washington.



Armas, drogas, las FARC, Bout y Guinea Ecuatorial... :roll:
Cry havoc and unleash the hawgs of war - Otatsiihtaissiiststakio piksi makamo ta psswia

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Mensaje por Esteban » 19 Mar 2008 20:39

Trabajo de Douglas Farah sobre Victor Bout

The Merchant of Death
Douglas Farah
17 Mar 2008


Russian entrepreneur Viktor Bout has made millions as the world’s most efficient postman, able to deliver any kind of cargo—especially illicit weapons—anywhere in the world. How was he able to build his intricate underground network? By exploiting cracks in the anarchy of globalization.



In many ways, Viktor Bout is a prototypical, modern-day, multinational entrepreneur. He is smart, savvy, and ambitious. He’s good with numbers, speaks several languages, and knows how to seize opportunities when they arise. According to those who’ve met him, he’s polite, professional, and unassuming. Bout has no known political agenda. He loves his family. He’s fed the poor. And through his hard work, he’s become extraordinarily wealthy. During the past decade, Bout’s business acumen has earned him hundreds of millions of dollars. What, exactly, does he do? Former colleagues describe him as a postman, able to deliver any package virtually anywhere in the world.

Not yet 40 years old, the Russian national also happens to be the world’s most notorious arms trafficker. He, more than almost anyone else, has succeeded in exploiting the anarchy of globalization to get goods—usually illicit goods—to market. He’s a wanted man, desired by those who require a small military arsenal and pursued by law enforcement agencies who want to bring him down. Globe-trotting weapons merchants have long flooded the Third World with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades, and warehouses of bullets and land-mines. But unlike his rivals, who tend to carve out small regional territories, Bout’s planes have dropped off his tell-tale military-green crates from jungle landing strips in the Congo to bleak hillside runways in Afghanistan. He has developed a worldwide network of logistics, maneuvering through a maze of brokers, transportation companies, financiers, and weapons manufacturers—both illicit and legitimate—to deliver everything from fresh-cut flowers, frozen poultry, and U.N. peacekeepers to assault rifles and surface-to-air missiles across four continents.

Arms Around the World

What would the global flow of weapons look like without Viktor Bout? Dozens of traffickers wait in the wings. more...

His client list for weapons is long. In the 1990s, Bout was a friend and supplier to the legendary Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, while simultaneously selling weapons and aircraft to the Taliban, Massoud’s enemy. His fleet flew for the government of Angola, as well as for the UNITA rebels seeking to overthrow it. He sent an aircraft to rescue Mobutu Sese Seko, the ailing and corrupt ruler of Zaire, even though he had supplied the rebels who were closing in on Mobutu’s last stronghold. He has catered to Charles Taylor of Liberia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Bout’s customers are not exclusively corrupt Third-World leaders. He built his fortune by flying tons of legitimate cargo, too. These included countless trips for the United Nations into the same areas where he supplied the weapons that sparked the humanitarian crises in the first place. He’s done business with Western governments, including the United States. Over the past several years, the U.S. Treasury Department has tried to put Bout out of business by freezing his assets and imposing other sanctions on him, his business associates, and his companies. But the Pentagon and its contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have simultaneously paid him millions of dollars to fly hundreds of missions in support of postwar reconstruction in both countries. In an age when the U.S. president has divided the world into those who are with the United States and those who are against it, Bout is both.

International officials believe that Bout’s business practices—in particular, his refusal to discriminate among those who are willing to pay the right price—are, in fact, illegal. Peter Hain, then the British Foreign Office minister responsible for Africa, stood in Parliament in 2000 to lash out against those violating U.N. arms sanctions. He singled out Bout, dubbing him Africa’s “merchant of death.” But Bout’s deals often fall into a legal gray area that global jurisprudence has simply failed to proscribe. It’s not for lack of trying. His peripatetic aircraft appear in little-noticed U.N. reports documenting arms embargo violations in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Sierra Leone. U.S. spy satellites have photographed his airplanes loading crates of weapons on remote airstrips in Africa. American and British intelligence officials have eavesdropped on his telephone conversations. Interpol has issued a “red notice,” requesting his arrest on Belgian weapons trafficking and money-laundering charges.

Yet Bout has managed to elude authorities over and over again. Laws simply do not address transnational, nonstate actors such as Bout. His most egregious illegal acts have included multiple violations of U.N. arms embargoes, a crime for which there is no penalty and for which there is no enforcement mechanism. Today, Bout lives openly in Moscow, protected by a Russian government unconcerned by the international outcry that surrounds him and his business empire.

International man of Mystery

Much of Viktor Bout’s early history is either unknown or of his own making. He is married and has at least one daughter; that much is true. His older brother Sergei works for him. But any other personal information is clouded in mystery. Even his place of birth is unclear. According to his official Russian passport, Bout was born on Jan. 13, 1967, in the faded Soviet outpost of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. But during a 2002 radio interview in Moscow, Bout said he was born near the Caspian Sea in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. A 2001 South African intelligence report lists him as Ukrainian. He is known to carry more than one passport and use an array of aliases, including Vadim S. Aminov, Victor Anatoliyevitsch Bout, Victor S. Bulakin, and the sardonic favorite of his American pursuers, Victor Butt.

The deliberate obfuscation has made it difficult to track Bout, his partners, and his business. He says he was an Air Force officer and has acknowledged graduating from the prestigious Soviet Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow in the late 1980s. He reportedly speaks fluent English, French, Portuguese, Uzbek, and several African languages. U.N. officials say he worked as a translator for peacekeepers in Angola in the late 1980s. Several reports tie him to Russian organized crime. Although British and South African intelligence reports say that Bout was stationed in Rome with the KGB from 1985 to 1989, he has strenuously denied any intelligence background. But military language school was a known training ground for the GRU (or Main Intelligence Directorate)—the vast, secretive, Soviet military intelligence network that oversaw the Cold War flow of Russian arms to revolutionary movements and communist client states in the Third World.

Whether or not he was a secret agent, by the time the Cold War ended, Bout had struck out on his own and was ready to salvage the remaining scraps of the Soviet empire. The entire Soviet Air Force was on life support, as money for maintenance and fuel evaporated. Thousands of pilots and crew members were suddenly unemployed. Hundreds of lumbering old Antonov and Ilyushin cargo planes sat abandoned at airports and military bases from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, their tires frayed and their worn frames patched with sheet metal and duct tape.

Moving quickly, Bout acquired cargo planes destined for the junkyard. By his own account, Bout, then 25, bought his first trio of old Antonovs for $120,000, hiring crews to fly cargo on a maiden flight to Denmark, then on longer-distance routes to Africa and the Middle East. But his business and financial associates tell a different version. “The GRU gave him three airplanes to start the business,” said one European associate who knew Bout in Russia and worked with him in Africa. “He had finished language school, but he had learned to fly. The planes, countless numbers of them, were sitting there doing nothing. They decided, let’s make this commercial. They gave Viktor the aircraft and in exchange collected a part of the charter money.”

Bout’s initial stock in trade was the supply of guns and ammunition abandoned in arsenals around the former Soviet bloc. Many had airstrips built inside their compounds, making loading easy. Guards were often unpaid and their commanders were willing to sell the weapons for a fraction of the market value. This availability of weapons was married to an instant clientele of former Soviet clients, unstable governments, dictators, warlords, and guerilla armies clamoring for steady supplies across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. “He had a logistics network, the best in the world,” says Lee S. Wolosky, a former staff member at the National Security Council (NSC) who led the United States’ interagency efforts to track Bout in the late 1990s. “There are a lot of people who can deliver arms to Africa or Afghanistan, but you can count on one hand those who can deliver major weapons systems rapidly. Viktor Bout is at the top of that list.”

By the late 1990s, Bout had perfected his modus operandi—the ability to move his aircraft ahead of government efforts to ground them. To obtain permission to fly internationally, an aircraft must be registered in a country where its maintenance records and airworthiness are certified. Each country in the world has a series of call letters assigned to it, so the country of origin of any aircraft should be immediately identifiable by matching call letters on a plane’s tail. By repeatedly registering planes in different countries, Bout was able to avoid local aviation rules, inspections, and oversight. According to a December 2000 U.N. investigation, Bout often registered his planes in Liberia, a nation that had sold its aircraft registry to business associates who helped Bout set up the aviation and holding companies he used for arms trafficking. Run from Kent, England, the Liberian “Aircraft Registration Bureau” offered a full range of services, without anyone ever inspecting the aircraft. This included the “creation of a company name; air operator’s certificate (no restrictions); full aircraft/company documentation; ferry permits and crew validations,” the U.N. report noted. That same group controlled the registry of Equatorial Guinea, so when international pressure mounted on Liberia to decertify Bout’s aircraft, he simply reregistered them, a process that took only a few hours through a series of phone and computer transactions.

Although Bout’s aircraft were registered and reregistered in far-flung corners of the world, they almost all operated out of Sharjah, a small desert sheikdom in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that serves as a central base for flights to and from the former Soviet bloc, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. There, Bout continued to muddle his company structures. The aircraft registered in Equatorial Guinea operated under the name Air Cess, and those registered in the Central African Republic flew for Central African Airlines. Although the two airlines had different addresses, they had the same Sharjah phone numbers.

Bout’s first known weapons flights were to Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance in 1992. Three years later, a MiG fighter jet, flown by the Taliban, intercepted a hulking freighter leased by Bout for delivery of several million rounds of ammunition to the government in Kabul. Taliban soldiers seized the aircraft’s cargo and imprisoned its crew. Bout negotiated with the mullahs for months. Finally, after a year, the crew pulled off what appeared to be a miraculous escape, outwitting their captors by flying the Ilyushin out of Kandahar. But skeptical Western intelligence officials and Bout’s rivals later suggested the crew’s release was tied to Bout’s secret work for the mullahs. After all, in 1995, Sharjah had established a free trade zone that soon became known for its lax oversight and close ties to Islamist radicals. Because the UAE was one of only three countries (along with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Sharjah became the main shopping center for the regime, where it was able to purchase everything from weapons and satellite telephones to refrigerators and generators.

Soon, a covert business relationship was established between the Taliban and Bout’s network. Bout’s avionics and maintenance crews serviced planes flown by Ariana Afghan Airways, the national carrier then controlled by the mullahs. Starting in 1998, according to aircraft registration documents found in Kabul by Afghan officials, Bout’s operation and allied air firms based in Sharjah sold the Taliban military a fleet of cargo planes that was used to haul tons of arms and matériel into Afghanistan. U.S. officials concluded that the planes also ferried militant operatives, narcotics, and cash. It was a lucrative venture. Western officials estimate the Taliban paid Bout more than $50 million during the years it ruled Afghanistan.
Express Delivery (Mouse-over for captions.)

Bombs and Rice

While developing his ties with the Taliban, Bout was also perfecting his sanctions-busting business to the south. Throughout the 1990s, his aging fleet was crisscrossing Africa with weapons for all sides of some of the continent’s most gruesome conflicts. “[There was] Sierra Leone and Liberia, a real bleed-out across West Africa,” recalls Gayle Smith, who was senior director for African Affairs at the NSC at the time. “The Congo and Angola were still unresolved. And Sudan was heating up. Any one of these conflicts would have been all-consuming by itself. But they were happening all at once, and Bout was a common denominator.”

U.N. investigators uncovered a small slice of his activities in Angola. From July 1997 to October 1998, Bout’s airplanes flew 37 flights from Burgas, Bulgaria, to Lomé, Togo, with weapons destined for the UNITA rebels in Angola. The cargo included 20,000 82-mm mortar bombs, 6,300 antitank rockets, 790 AK-47s, 1,000 rocket launchers, and 15 million rounds of ammunition. The total value of the shipments was estimated at $14 million.

Bout’s real money came when he realized he could fly lucrative commercial cargo on the flights back from the weapons deliveries. His most profitable enterprise was flying gladiolas purchased for $2 in Johannesburg and resold for $100 in Dubai.

Ever on the lookout for a good business opportunity, Bout even took part in humanitarian operations. In 1993, he flew Belgian peacekeepers to Somalia as part of “Operation Restore Hope,” using TransAvia Export Cargo Company, one of his first ventures. A year later, his aircraft flew 2,500 French troops into Rwanda to help slow the ethnic slaughter there. In 2000, he transported hostage negotiators to the Philippines, where European tourists were being held by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. He also frequently carried relief supplies from the World Food Programme to impoverished areas in Africa. And in the wake of the massive Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, his planes delivered humanitarian goods and services to Sri Lanka.

The hunt for Viktor Bout

Ironically, it was Bout’s humanitarian flights delivering European aid that eventually led authorities to his illicit activities. Bout decided to expand his network northward in 1995, setting up several airfreight operations in Ostend, Belgium, where Belgian intelligence began investigating him for possible gunrunning. Meanwhile, the CIA was picking up the first reports of his activities in the Great Lakes region of East Africa. And British intelligence officials in Sierra Leone, worried about how their growing peacekeeping force there would contend with the country’s steady weapons flow, quietly set their sights on him, too. “The difference between Bout and the others was that Bout was an integrated operation,” says Johan Peleman, a Belgian researcher who was hired by the United Nations to help investigate Bout. “He can source the arms, he organizes the transport, and he can source the financing.” His genius was his ability to provide a door-to-door operation from the arsenal to the buyer.

By the late 1990s, Bout had emerged as the personification of the new transnational threat—a highly mobile global enabler, skilled at leveraging his assets and loyal to no country, deftly operating in several continents and shrugging off international standards. The U.S. government, in particular, grew frustrated by the limitations of international law. After all, domestic laws could not extend to Bout’s foreign arms deliveries. To apply pressure, U.S. officials turned to South Africa, where some of Bout’s planes had been based, and to Belgium, where police had targeted his companies as part of a wide-ranging money-laundering investigation. But despite high-level requests, South African officials declined to prosecute Bout due to lack of evidence, and the Belgians and Americans failed to find common ground on how to build a case.

Finally, in February 2002, the Belgian government issued an international arrest warrant for Bout, charging him with laundering $325 million between 1994 and 2001. But by then, Bout was safe in Moscow. Asked if Bout was in the country when the arrest warrant was issued, the Russian foreign ministry said no, even though Bout was giving live radio interviews from studios in downtown Moscow. The next day, officials grudgingly acknowledged he might be in Russia but said they had seen no evidence that he had committed any crime, and therefore could not act.

Flying Under the Radar

Any momentum to scuttle Bout’s business empire quickly fizzled in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Bush administration was almost immediately preoccupied by its invasion of Afghanistan and its wider war on terror. In April 2003, soon after the United States invaded Iraq, American officials began laying the groundwork for a massive commercial airlift. The U.S. military and the thousands of private contractors hired to restore Iraq’s shattered infrastructure needed supplies for their mission. By the summer, Antonovs were roaring into Baghdad’s cratered airport, ferrying everything from tents and video players to armored cars and refurbished Kalashnikovs.

But to their embarrassment, U.S. officials later learned that many of the Russian planes were operated by companies and crews working for Viktor Bout. His planes were flying Federal Express shipments for the U.S. Air Force, tents for the U.S. Army, and oil field equipment and personnel for KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary. In the months that followed, Bout’s flagship firm flew hundreds of sorties in and out of Baghdad, earning millions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers.

How Bout’s empire forged its secret U.S. contacts is unclear. But, as U.S. intelligence and military officials believe, the reason may be as simple as Bout’s having the foresight to position his aircraft in the region. He was able to make his services available in the massive confusion that surrounded the supply operation, when no one had time to check the credentials of the many air operations vying for contracts.

As Bout’s contracts became public, and the possible legal implications of continuing to deal with him were explained by the U.S. Treasury Department, the military lurched toward a response. Air Force officials reacted quickly, revoking the fuel allowance and persuading Federal Express to sever its contract. But the U.S. Army and other defense agencies insisted they had no responsibility to scrutinize second-tier subcontractors. Bout’s flights for KBR continued well into late 2005, and even expanded to include flights into Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Several well-known Bout firms were finally banned from Iraq early this year by military officials. But Bout was suspected of shifting his operations to new firms, and U.S. officials fear that those companies may try to land lucrative U.S. contracts again.

On April 26, 2005, then Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing Juan Zarate announced new U.S. economic sanctions against 30 companies in Bout’s financial orbit. Although Bout was not designated as a terrorist himself, Zarate noted that he had profited from supplying the Taliban with military equipment when it ruled Afghanistan—a relationship that connected Bout, at least indirectly, to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Therefore, U.S. entities were now banned from doing business with any of Bout’s companies, even indirectly. Eight months later, the U.S. list was adopted by the full U.N. Security Council’s Liberia committee—a move not impeded by the Russian delegation. In theory, the international sanctions should have put an end to Bout’s trafficking.

Yet investigators have discovered several newly formed Bout enterprises operating aircraft that are still registered to Air Cess and other companies. Human rights monitors have heard that his planes flew into the northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year. And in January, one of Bout’s carriers, Irbis Air Company, bid on a contract with Halliburton in Iraq. Despite the UAE’s assurances that it has grounded his fleet, Bout often exploits the fact that U.S. military air controllers on duty in Sharjah, who control traffic into Iraq, rotate jobs every six months. His businesses—including new shell companies registered in Moldova and elsewhere in Eastern Europe—apply for contracts before the new person has time to find out who is designated or what to watch for. “It is a constant fight, because the military wants to fly stuff and the new people are under pressure, and tracking aircraft ownership is, frankly, not a priority,” said a U.S. official involved in the Bout hunt.

Conceding their difficult straits, U.S. officials admit that there is no clear evidence that Bout’s air fleet has been diminished or his activities slackened as a result of the sanctions. “You never can say with 100 percent certainty that he is gone,” says Zarate—who is now President George W. Bush’s chief counterterror deputy at the NSC. “He is very, very good at doing his business.” The Europeans find it equally hard. “He doesn’t go away. He just keeps changing his aircraft and registrations, hoping that he will outlast the interest in following him,” says a European military intelligence source. “So far, he is right.”

The Sieve of Globalization

Today, international efforts to pursue Bout have largely been abandoned. The CIA no longer has personnel specifically tasked with following his activities. The Belgian money-laundering investigation has stalled over internal feuding and lack of government interest. Only the British maintain an active intelligence effort to track him, and even that effort is greatly reduced.

In the meantime, Bout lives in a luxury apartment complex in Moscow, where he is occasionally spotted eating out at fancy sushi bars. Richard Chichakli, Bout’s American business partner, also moved to Russia, using frequent flier miles to buy a ticket out of Texas after his assets were frozen in April 2005 by U.S. officials, who suspected he was running some of Bout’s businesses from the United States. In theory, neither of them is allowed to go abroad because of a U.N. travel ban. But U.S. officials involved in the Bout hunt say there were credible Bout sightings earlier this year in Beirut. Meanwhile, the Russian government declines to answer any questions about Bout, who reportedly has cultivated close ties with senior military and other government officials in Moscow.

Bout himself has said that he did not know—nor did he have any legal or ethical obligation to know—the contents of the long, green crates he ferried into war zones. Strict economic calculations, not ideology, have been the guiding star of Bout’s operations. But what motivates a man to shove such moral implications aside? Is it the quest for wealth? The adrenaline rush of operating in dangerous circumstances? The knowledge that some of the world’s most powerful people rely on you? “No one else would deliver the packages,” says one of Bout’s South African associates. “You never shoot the postman.”

Perhaps the existence of the merchant of death says more about the world today than it does about the man himself. The halting efforts to disrupt his activities tell a chastening story of the failure of nations. Indeed, Viktor Bout is a product of the convergence of history and opportunity, an entrepreneur who saw a chance to turn an incredible profit in a rapidly changing world. In the Cold War, each side was able to enforce adherence to ideological imperatives by controlling the supply and demand of just about everything. When the Berlin Wall came down, so did the controls, and the market was thrown open to those who could seize the moment. Bout grasped that his services could be useful to any party desperately seeking the weapons he could provide. With a growing number of failed and failing states dependent on inexpensive and readily available weapons, Bout was able to craft a transglobal network to meet this market. “If you look at all of Bout’s various escapades, how easy it was for him to move weapons, get end-user certificates, and change aircraft registration,” says Michael Chandler, a retired British colonel who led a U.N. panel on the Taliban and al Qaeda, “you get an amazing picture of how corrupt many parts of the world are.”

Even in today’s new world order, where the United States is the sole superpower and old ideologies are diminished, governments have yet to come to grips with the emergence of transnational criminal groups. These armed, nonstate actors disregard borders, dispassionately working with the Taliban and the U.S. military and other unlikely bedfellows, breeding instability and violence for personal profit, not ideology. Traffickers like Bout invented new rules as they went along. Rather than being impediments to the flow of weapons, arms embargoes simply allowed them to jack up prices. International “name and shame” campaigns, with no enforcement ability, served only to advertise their services.

Many arms control experts say that if Bout’s empire were finally brought to heel, the international weapons business would simply fragment into smaller fiefdoms, similar to the way that the Colombian Cali and Medellín cocaine cartels disassembled in the 1990s after their leaders were killed. What they fail to mention, though, is that the net production of cocaine did not diminish, and the shrunken, tight-knit cartels proved equally difficult to dismantle. Indeed, in today’s world, any attempt to halt illicit activities—whether it’s trafficking by Viktor Bout or by someone else—can truly be read as the second labor of Hercules. Whenever the hydra’s head is cut off, two more grow in its place.

Imagen

Douglas Farah, a former Washington Post foreign correspondent, is a terror finance consultant and author of Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror (New York: Broadway Books, 2004).

Stephen Braun is a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. The authors are writing a book about Viktor Bout that will be published in 2007.

http://www.analyst-network.com/article.php?art_id=1846
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Re: Victor Bout

Mensaje por Loopster » 01 Ene 2009 20:09

Dos artículos muy buenos sobre Victor Bout.

El primero escrito por los viejos conocidos de Mother Jones :lol:

Bruce Falconer para Mother Jones escribió:Viktor Bout's Last Deal
How an elite DEA unit brought down the world's most notorious arms dealer

FOR VIKTOR BOUT, meeting clients in person—looking them in the eye, shaking their hands—was his preferred way of doing business, though it was not strictly necessary. As the fugitive leader of the world's largest and most lucrative illicit-arms-trafficking network, he had plenty of capable lieutenants to manage his affairs. But Bout, by all accounts, enjoyed his work and liked to be on location when deals were closed. So it was that on Thursday, March 6, he landed in Bangkok, Thailand, having flown all night from his home in Moscow.

He had come to meet representatives of what he hoped would be his newest customer, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and to finalize an arrangement to deliver millions of dollars of military-grade weapons from Eastern European warehouses to the FARC's jungle outposts. It was a welcome new line of business for the 41-year-old Russian, who had chafed lately under U.S., European, and UN sanctions that had frozen his assets and severely curtailed his ability to travel. Thailand had remained one of the few countries in the world where Bout felt secure. It was known to have lenient immigration controls and no shortage of corrupt bureaucrats who could easily be bought off. Moreover, it was popular with Western tourists among whom the arms dealer could conceal himself without raising suspicion. It was not a country where Bout enjoyed the tacit security that came with knowing well-placed government officials, as he did throughout much of Eastern Europe and Africa, but it was many time zones removed from where his pursuers were likely to be hunting for him and, he must have thought, as good a place as any to conduct his latest transaction.

Bout arrived shortly before noon at Bangkok's five-star Sofitel Silom Hotel, a modern 38-story glass structure that towers above a traffic-congested, tree-lined street in the city's commercial district. He checked in at the front desk and made a 3 p.m. reservation for a conference room before retiring to his suite on the 14th floor. He remained there for several hours, perhaps taking the opportunity to catch up on sleep before rising at the appointed time to meet his FARC contacts. He took the elevator to the conference room on the 27th floor, where he and several other Russians, presumably the bodyguards Bout always kept close, watched hotel workers prepare food for the meeting and waited for their Colombian clients to appear. As is now well known, the FARC was nowhere to be found. Instead, as many as 50 Thai police, joined by special agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, had been staking out the Sofitel since 5 a.m. in anticipation of Bout's arrival. What he believed to be members of the FARC, a Marxist rebel army involved with drug trafficking that appears on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, were actually undercover DEA informants. They had been stringing Bout along for several months with the false promise of buying sophisticated weapons systems from him. Police entered the conference room with weapons ready, but Bout and his men were unarmed and did not resist. Authorities handcuffed Bout and ushered him out the hotel's back entrance to a waiting vehicle. A Thai police officer who was there later told reporters that, upon being arrested, the Russian arms dealer said only, "The game is over."

THE CHAIN OF EVENTS that brought Viktor Bout to Bangkok that morning had played out like moves in a high-stakes poker game, albeit one rigged in favor of Bout's opponents. What follows is the story of how the "Merchant of Death," so named for his role in fueling Third World conflicts with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of weapons and ammunition, was brought down by a months-long international DEA sting operation. Drawing on information from a newly unsealed U.S. federal indictment against Bout, interviews with experts in and out of government, and journalistic accounts of Bout's activities, this portrayal offers a glimpse not only of the inner workings of Bout's organization, but of how other transnational criminal enterprises—such as the mafia, drug cartels, and terrorist groups—do business in the global free market. "Victor Bout is a symbol of the modern world [and] a product of this post-Cold War era," says Mark Galeotti, a historian who has advised the British government on Russian organized crime. "He engages himself in all kinds of activities that wander backward and forward across the boundaries of legality." Willing to work for anyone, Bout's business divorced itself from any political, philosophical, or moral constraint. It delivered military cargo with equal enthusiasm to terrorists, guerrilla insurgents, rebel warlords, embattled dictatorships, legitimate businesses, humanitarian aid groups, and sovereign governments, including the United States. Indeed, to the U.S. military's subsequent embarrassment, Bout-controlled airlines, working on subcontract for firms like KBR and Federal Express, were found to have ferried personnel and supplies into Iraq in the years immediately following the 2003 invasion—a detail sure to figure prominently in Bout's defense if, as U.S. prosecutors have requested, he is extradited to stand trial in an American court. "That's one reason he was so elusive and difficult to catch," says Galeotti, "because he was so useful to so many people."

The DEA unit that finally got the better of Viktor Bout is a relatively new creation. The agency had been chasing the FARC and other international narco-traffickers for years, but after 9/11, changes to federal law provided the drug warriors with greater latitude to run overseas operations against non-American targets. "We crossed over post-9/11 and actually formed a group" to pursue these types of investigations, says DEA spokesman Michael Sanders. (He declined to provide further information about the group for security reasons, but described the Bout sting operation as "guarded" and the number of people involved as "very small.") "We can reach out and get hold of somebody as far as drugs go, and they don't have to be present or have done something inside the domestic United States to be convicted for these drug crimes." Bout was known to transport small amounts of drugs between weapons transfers (he hated nothing so much as an empty cargo bay), and in that the DEA found a pretense to go after him. "We were presented with an opportunity, and we didn't pass it off," says Sanders. "We took it and ran with it."

The decision to use the FARC to target Bout's operation was not without precedent. In 2006, the same DEA unit nabbed Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar, the so-called "Prince of Marbella," at Madrid's international airport after ensnaring him in a bogus multimillion-dollar deal to supply weapons and explosives to the FARC. Al-Kassar remains in a Spanish jail, awaiting extradition to the United States. The sting that put him there was almost identical to the one that would later snag Bout. How could the Russian, renowned for the care he took in ensuring his own security, have fallen for the same trick? "If you were to do a movie script, you would see the similarities [because] they played out the same way," says Sanders, adding, "If something works, you might as well do it again!"

In Bout's case, another factor may have come into play, namely that the FARC really was trying to acquire the types of weapons and equipment he was known to provide. "What's fascinating about [the unsealed federal indictment] is how close it is, even though it's pure coincidence, to what FARC was actually looking for," says Jonathan Winer, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement during the Clinton administration, who was "present at the creation" of early U.S. efforts to capture the Russian. "They were seeking surface-to-air missiles," he said, citing documents seized in a cross-border raid by the Colombian military against a FARC hideout in Ecuador earlier this month. Even before the sting began, Bout may already have been reaching out to the Colombian guerrillas. "I've been hearing reports for the last six months that Bout was in fact trying to sell armored all-terrain vehicles to the FARC so the leadership could drive around," says Douglas Farah, coauthor with Los Angeles Times reporter Stephen Braun of a recent book about Bout's network. In all likelihood, agreed Winer, the DEA was simply capitalizing on actual developments in the black market. "My guess here is that there is a real FARC outreach to get weapons somewhere," he says. "It was not just a sting operation manufactured out of thin air."

Beyond that, the DEA "believed the FARC was an entirely credible option for him," Farah says, because Bout had already made at least one delivery to the group. Sometime in the late 1990s, he is alleged to have air dropped as many as 10,000 AK-47s into the jungle along Colombia's southern border with Peru. The experience may have given Bout confidence in his ability to operate there, but for one important detail: His customer at the time was Peruvian intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who had arranged the weapons deal as a favor to the FARC. "He didn't deal with the FARC directly," Farah notes. "He knew how to drop stuff there because he had done it, but he had never dealt with the FARC, so he wouldn't have known particular commanders"—including the men he later arranged to meet in Bangkok.

FOR SOMEONE SO POLITICALLY connected in so many places, Bout's personal history, all the little pieces that make up the man, has remained the stuff of urban legend. He is variously described as having been born in the Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Ukraine. He is married and has a daughter who lives in Spain, as well as a brother named Sergei in Moscow, also believed to be active in the arms-smuggling business. He is known to hold as many as five passports in various aliases and speaks at least six languages, including Russian, Uzbek, Portuguese, French, English, and perhaps several African dialects. As a young man, his language talents were developed at the Soviet Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, a primary recruiting vehicle for the GRU, the Soviet military intelligence service. Whether Bout became a GRU officer remains unknown (there is speculation he joined the KGB), but his post-Soviet career bears a striking similarity to one of the GRU's primary Cold War tasks: the provision of weapons to communist movements around the world. Bout, for his part, was unimpressed by Marxist politics, but the basic mechanics of moving large quantities of military equipment to remote locations he might easily have mastered while in the GRU's employ.

After the Soviet Union's implosion, Bout went into business for himself, using his connections to gain access to mountains of former Warsaw Pact weapons and ammunition and buying up the old military cargo aircraft required to move them. There were plenty of paying customers to be served, and in the years that followed, Bout served them all, often working for both sides of a conflict to double his profit. He armed the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor's regime in Liberia, UNITA in Angola, various Congolese factions, and Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamic group in the Philippines. As recently as 2006, says Farah, the arms dealer was believed to be making shipments to the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia and Hezbollah in Lebanon, among many others.

Despite his success on the black market, Bout escaped notice for many years. "For a long time, nobody cared," says Winer. "He had a decade-long period before there was a real understanding of what he was doing, and then we lacked the tools because it was all cross-border." For Bout, the walls began to close in only in March 2001, when the UN included his name on a "travel ban" list for his dealings with Charles Taylor's Liberia. In subsequent years, the Belgian government issued an Interpol "red notice" for his arrest, and the U.S. government, through the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), incrementally tightened economic sanctions against Bout, ultimately placing him on its list of "Specially Designated Nationals," freezing the assets of any companies or individuals found to have dealings with him.

Prior to Bout's arrival in Thailand, there had been several failed attempts to apprehend him. In February 2002, British and Belgian police got word that the arms dealer was scheduled to fly into Athens, Greece, but Bout was tipped off at the last minute. Authorities picked up his trail again in March 2004, having learned that Bout planned to attend his daughter's birthday party in Spain, but the Madrid train bombings caused him to cancel the trip. "Sometimes he's been lucky," says Galeotti. "Sometimes he's been wily and thought, 'Hang on, this doesn't quite pan out right.' Other times it may well be that he was tipped off. He's got contacts in all sorts of places. The story is that he managed to get away with it for as long as he did."

IT REMAINS UNCLEAR WHEN the DEA's investigation of Bout began, but "it mushroomed and went operational in November," says Sanders, the DEA spokesman. By that time, the agency was running a paid informant (confidential source 1, or "CS-1," in the federal indictment), who was an old acquaintance of Bout associate Andrew Smulian—a contact the DEA would exploit to penetrate Bout's inner circle. Little is known about Smulian, aside from that he is a British citizen who once served as an advisor to one of Bout's airlines and had risen to become one of the arms dealer's trusted lieutenants. At the DEA's request, CS-1 emailed Smulian, explaining that he had a business proposition for Bout and requesting that Smulian meet him on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, a resort haven better known for scuba diving than arms dealing, where he would introduce his old friend to the prospective buyers. Smulian agreed but, making clear the financial and legal strains his boss was feeling, suggested taking precautions against surveillance. "Our man has been made persona non-G—for the world through the UN," he wrote back. "All assets cash and kind frozen, total value is around 6 Bn USD, and of course no ability to journey anywhere other than home territories. Listed on US black list.... All access and communications monitored, and therefore we should not make use of any form of contact, and all existing and past comms are electronically interogated [sic], and copied. My new phone is OK, since I never call him on that."

The meeting took place just after New Year's in a Curaçao hotel room. CS-1 introduced Smulian to two men, "CS-2" and "CS-3", both undercover DEA informants, who passed themselves off as representatives of the FARC. CS-2 played a lower-level FARC operative, while CS-3 adopted the title of "El Commandante," indicating his supposed high rank within the organization. Together, they explained their desire to acquire large quantities of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles. In demonstration of their "good faith," they provided Smulian with $5,000 for his time and travel expenses, as well as a new cell phone, which they assured him was safe for his use. It was not, of course, and immediately investigators began monitoring Smulian's communications.

In the days that followed, Smulian used his DEA-monitored phone to call another, apparently higher-ranking member of Bout's network, named in the federal indictment as coconspirator 1 ("CC-1"). Smulian explained that he needed to visit Bout in Moscow to discuss some business and requested assistance assembling the necessary visas and travel documents. CC-1 happily complied, even suggesting some of the city's better hotels. After checking in with Bout, CC-1 emailed Smulian, conveying their boss' request to "confirm the list" of weapons before leaving for Moscow. Smulian replied that the desired shipment was well within Bout's means. "Standard ground equipment," he wrote. "Must be good stuff...no rubbish."

DEA surveillance records based on remotely conducted phone and Internet traces indicate that Smulian met with Bout in Moscow on Monday, January 21. There, the arms dealer displayed a series of photographs of the FARC's senior leadership and asked Smulian to identity the buyers from the pictures. According to Sanders, the informants were not members of the FARC and therefore did not appear in Bout's photo file, a detail that perhaps should have caused him to think twice before moving ahead with the deal. How Smulian responded to Bout's effort at due diligence is among the questions left unanswered by the federal indictment. "Maybe he convinced Bout that he was dealing with a lower level group than would have been in the pictures," Farah speculates. Certainly, there was a financial incentive for Smulian to get his boss to accept the Colombians as clients. "I think Smulian wanted this thing to go through" and may have "lied to Bout about who they were," says Sanders. Whatever happened, Bout was convinced enough to proceed, even extending an offer to launder money for the FARC (at 40 percent interest) and assuring Smulian that "any communists are our friends." He instructed Smulian to arrange a meeting with CS-1, the informant posing as the lower-ranking FARC operative, and another unknown member of Bout's network to go over the details of the purchase. Ever concerned with security, Bout directed Smulian before leaving Moscow to ditch his cell phones, SIM cards, receipts, and any other evidence that would "indicate where he had been and with whom he had been meeting," according to Bout's indictment.

From Moscow, Smulian proceeded to Copenhagen, Denmark, where CS-1, his old friend and original hookup on the deal, and the junior FARC operative were waiting. He relayed to them an offer from Bout. The Russian had "100 pieces" (surface-to-air missiles) available for sale, which he said could be "air dropped with great accuracy." In return, Bout's operation would accept payment, presumably in cash, to be picked up at a remote Colombian airstrip. Allowing for time to consider the proposal, the men agreed to meet again in a few days in Bucharest, Romania, to continue the negotiations.

By now, with the deal nearing its conclusion, all three DEA informants insisted on a meeting with Bout before finalizing the transaction. Bout, it seems, was also intrigued to meet his new clients. Bucharest was selected for this purpose, as it was a country to which he had traveled safely in the past. Still, Smulian was protective of his boss and urged the Colombians to agree to the deal without meeting Bout, explaining that the Russian was "a very high profile figure and risked arrest if he traveled to Romania," according to the federal indictment. When the Colombians refused, Smulian called Bout directly and handed the phone to "El Commandante," the senior FARC commander. The two men discussed possible meeting locations, considering Cuba, Nicaragua, and Armenia, but could not reach an agreement, probably out of the informant's concern that local enforcement in those countries might not cooperate with DEA's plans to arrest Bout.

Over the next several days, CS-1, the supposed FARC representatives, and Smulian continued to hold talks in Bucharest, during which Smulian further clarified the weapons to be included in the shipment. Bout would provide 100 Igla surface-to-air missiles, Smulian said, showing the buyers pictures and weapon specifications on his laptop. If desired, the deal could also include armor-piercing rockets and "special helicopters that can wipe out their helicopters," he said, presumably referring to the Colombian military, as well as the training to use them. The gunships would be equipped with sophisticated missiles and launchers that could fire three rounds at a time, far outmatching any opposition the FARC was likely to encounter. The goods were currently in Bulgaria, Smulian said, and were ready for immediate delivery. The shipping cost alone would be $5 million. (The value of the weapons themselves has not been publicly released.) Smulian provided his FARC customers with a thumb drive containing pictures of the weapons systems he had described, as well as an article about Viktor Bout that included the arms dealer's picture, presumably so they would recognize him at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, Bout was making arrangements to travel to Bucharest. On January 28, he called Smulian to say that it would be another five to ten days before he would have his Romanian visa. Smulian said he understood and emphasized how difficult it would be for the buyers to travel to Moscow. "You know the one guy, the one you spoke to, he comes from the jungle," he told Bout. "You know, that's a problem, and then the documentation they got is not suitable." "I see, I see," Bout replied. The next day, the men spoke again. Smulian assured Bout that everyone was willing to wait for him in Romania, as long as he really intended to come. "One hundred percent sure! One hundred percent sure! Wait for me max 10 days. I am there," he said, adding, "Make sure that [the deal] is real." To speed up the processing of his visa, Bout reached out to an associate (called "CC-2" in the indictment), the head of a Romanian airline who had had dealings with the Russian before. He said he could help Bout with the visa, but then advised him not to come. On Christmas Eve, a Romanian television news program had aired a segment linking the airline operator to Bout's network. He told the arms dealer that Romania was now too dangerous to visit.

When after two weeks Bout had yet to appear in Bucharest, the DEA informants seem to have given up hope of luring him there. On February 7, CS-2, the informant posing as the junior FARC operative, called Bout on Smulian's cell phone to say he and his partner were leaving Romania. "Our organization always needs friends like you that want to help us out," he told Bout, and explained that he was leaving an email address with Smulian ([email protected]), which could be used to contact him in the future. Bout assured him he would be in touch in two to three weeks.

Bout's email arrived five days later. It read, "Buenos Dias! This is e mail we can use for communication[.] Best regards[,] Friend of Andrew." The DEA traced the message to a computer in Moscow. Perhaps not wanting to appear overeager, the informants did not immediately respond, instead waiting for the next contact. It came from Smulian, who wanted to confirm that Bout's message had been received. "These days there can be confusion with all the spam coming in," he wrote apologetically. By now, Bout was growing impatient to close the deal and broke protocol by calling CS-2 directly. The informant explained that he and "El Commandante" would be traveling to Thailand in the near future. Bout immediately agreed to meet them in Bangkok.

SITTING HANDCUFFED IN the headquarters of the Royal Thai Police's Crime Suppression Division, Viktor Bout may have been remembering how his supposed FARC clients had not appeared in his collection of mug shots back in Moscow. He sat quietly without expression in the same orange polo shirt and tan slacks he had worn to the ill-fated meeting in the hotel earlier that day. A large man and overweight, his belly slopped over his belt as photographers gathered outside in the hall sneaked pictures whenever the door opened with the coming and going of excited police officers. His fate now lies in the hands of the Thai legal system, where police can hold Bout for up to 84 days without charges while they determine whether he used Thailand as a negotiating site for deals with foreign terrorists. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in Thai prison, most likely the one in which he already resides, Klong Prem, long the destination of foreign sex tourists and money launderers. The United States is seeking Bout's extradition to stand trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on charges of conspiring to provide weapons to a known terrorist organization. He could serve up to 15 years if convicted. (Smulian, who was reportedly with Bout in Bangok, is currently in U.S. custody, though it's unclear how he got there.) Meanwhile, Stephen Rapp, the UN's chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, has expressed interest in prosecuting Bout for fueling the violence in that country with illegal weapons shipments in the 1990s. (Russia, which provided Bout with sanctuary and a secure base of operations for the last several years, decided against seeking his extradition. According to the Washington Times, however, the Russian government has appealed to the State Department for assistance in getting Bout released from Thai custody.)

Whatever happens to Bout, the sophisticated arms-trafficking network he assembled seems unlikely to survive his incarceration. "It's hard to imagine his brother or any of his deputies having the wherewithal to manage the empire as adroitly and fully as he did," says Whitney Schneidman, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs during the Clinton years and one of the first people to recognize the threat Bout posed to the region. Even if he were released after only a few years, it's a virtual certainty that by then others will have risen to take his place. "There are more small-time operators, and I wonder how long it is before one or two of them fill the vacuum," says Galeotti, the Russian crime expert.

For the moment, however, a void has been opened in the black market for military weapons. "There's no one quite like Viktor," Galeotti continues. "There wasn't really room for two Viktor Bouts." To be sure, weapons will still flow illegally across borders, but the service Bout provided, the "one-stop shop," is not known to exist anywhere else. "With Bout you were buying real capacity," explains Winer, the former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement. "That was the game he was in: 'You hire me, and I'll get you the critical stuff you need to change the correlation of forces.'" It was a unique service and one that Bout used to corner the market. "Most operations, you have one guy do the weapons, another guy to find transport, [and] another person has to figure out where to land it," says Farah. With Bout out of the picture, shipments will be "more costly, less efficient, and more time consuming." But don't expect the business of arms trafficking to suffer too much. As Galeotti notes, "Viktor Bout did not create the market. He was able very effectively to capitalize on it, but he didn't create it, and where there's a market, there will be other suppliers."




Y este de Economist:

International man of mystery - Flying anything to anybody

The rise and fall of Viktor Bout, arms-dealer extraordinaire, shows a darker side of globalisation

Imagen

VIKTOR BOUT knew, long before his plane lifted off from Moscow, that they meant to snatch him. For years he had hunkered down in the Russian capital, making only rare forays abroad. Western spies, the United Nations and do-gooder activists were after him. They said that he had smashed arms embargoes and struck deals with a remarkable axis of ne’er-do-wells: supplying weapons and air-transport to the Taliban, abetting despots and revolutionaries in Africa and South America, aiding Hizbullah in Lebanon and Islamists in Somalia. He also found time to supply American forces in Iraq, perhaps al-Qaeda too, and maybe even Chechen rebels.

He denied all wrongdoing and, no doubt, thought his accusers irritating and hypocritical. But until the fuss died away he knew that he was safe only in Russia, from where extradition was impossible.

Yet Mr Bout, a puzzling, amoral and intelligent man, made a poor choice in March, leaving behind his wife and daughter and flying to Bangkok. As a consequence he may end up in New York as the star of a trial that would provoke echoes of cold-war spy games, further chilling relations between the West and Russia.

A shy and plump man, for years his only public image was a grainy, Soviet-era passport photo. That shows a dumpy, youngish face, with drooping eyes peering above a thick, triangular, moustache—the sort one might buy in a joke shop. He was probably born in what is now Tajikistan but, as with the picture, details of his life are fuzzy. American prosecutors say that he uses at least half a dozen passports and more aliases, including “Butt”, “Budd”, “Boris”, “Bulakin” and “Aminov”. A gifted linguist, he slips easily between as many languages as he has names.

He rose to the rank of major in the GRU, an arm of the Soviet armed services that combined intelligence agents and special forces—in British terms “a combination of MI6 and the SAS”, says an academic. Clandestine work in Africa prepared him for his future career. Mark Galeotti, of Keele University, believes that Mr Bout suggested to his military bosses in 1993 that he went into “active reserve”, taking surplus aircraft to trade stuff in Africa and beyond.

Unofficially, he would have given payments to his old chiefs as planes and other stock were released. His goal was not nationalistic: it was to get rich quickly. “He enjoys the buzz of doing something well,” says Mr Galeotti. Those who studied at language school alongside Mr Bout recall him not as a thrill-seeker, but as a swot who relished success.

Mr Bout chose a useful time to come of age. As the Berlin Wall tumbled, supplies of surplus weaponry and fleets of military transport aircraft were up for grabs. Soldiers and air-force men, even senior ones, were poor and easily bribed; stocks of weapons, especially in remote corners such as Moldova, were barely monitored.

With supply assured, demand for his goods and services grew. As most outsiders abandoned interest in Africa and Central Asia, poorer governments lost their cold-war sponsors and many then collapsed, allowing wars to flourish. Where America and the Soviet Union had once vied to dump weapons on friendly governments, now Mr Bout stepped in. Arms-traders were not new to Africa, but space opened up for men such as Mr Bout.

Another boom in the 1990s was the provision of humanitarian aid during conflict, such as the wars in Somalia and Congo. Donors wanted to get goods—personnel, tents, food, medicine and the like—to remote airstrips. Mr Bout had big, rusty aeroplanes for hire to all comers.

His business, as detailed in “Merchant of Death”, a book by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun, two American investigative reporters, proved vastly profitable—an associate claimed this year that Mr Bout was worth $6 billion. It was also intensely complicated. He set up fast-changing firms with many fronts and names, providing air-logistics and weaponry to any client who could pay.

He shifted the paperwork of his planes, at times in mid-flight, registering them in far-flung corners such as the African dictatorship of Equatorial Guinea. His pilots learnt to travel with a pot of washable emulsion paint, ready to daub new identification numbers on the fuselages. At his peak he had over 50 aircraft, including huge Antonovs, on his books.

He avoided cameras and questions yet gradually became an anti-celebrity, the most notorious arms-dealer on the planet. In the 1990s activists, notably from Global Witness, a London-based group which studies the links between wars and natural resources, showed how sales of “blood diamonds”, oil, gold, timber and other commodities help to fuel conflicts.

Lord of war

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Some rebels, such as the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, bartered diamonds directly for guns. But there were arms embargoes, and trade is not easy in mountains and forests, using bumpy airstrips where aircraft can be smashed to bits if they are not first shot from the sky. The more that such wars are financed by illicit trade in commodities (rather than by the old cold-war means of outsider sponsorship for local forces) the more that entrepreneurial dealers such as Mr Bout can flourish.

Mr Bout’s genius was to employ impoverished ex-Soviet pilots, ready to risk their lives for hard currency, and to send his aircraft anywhere they were needed (he rarely flew on them himself). At times that meant getting United Nations peacekeepers into Somalia, or delivering aid for the British government. More often, as the UN eventually described, he provided the logistics that kept cruel civil wars alive. Reportedly Mr Bout supplied, simultaneously, both the rebels and the government during Angola’s civil war.

Similarly, he collaborated first with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and then, after one of his aircraft was impounded for months by the Taliban, switched to trading with the Islamists. He probably helped the American forces to fly material to Afghanistan and certainly did so in Iraq. He was active in eastern Congo, where years of war have led to the deaths of millions. Alex Yearsley of Global Witness sums up his career thus: “There’s nothing he hasn’t done.”

One particularly favoured client made him prominent: Charles Taylor, the Liberian despot now on trial in The Hague for war crimes in Sierra Leone. Mr Taylor helped to spread wars in west Africa, arming insurgents who were able to weaken neighbouring governments. Mr Bout worked closely with him. But as the arms-dealer’s infamy grew, so did the efforts to put him out of business.

A British minister, Peter Hain, did his bit by coining two annoyingly catchy nicknames, dubbing the Russian the “sanctions buster” and the “merchant of death”. In its turn Hollywood produced “Lord of War”, a fictional tale based on stories of his gun-running. (The producers reportedly used one of Mr Bout’s planes when filming.) Mr Bout thought the film was rubbish and said that he felt sorry for Nicolas Cage, who played him as an arch-villain. Another film is in the works, said to star Angelina Jolie. Other books and dramas will follow.

The trouble was that as the myth of Bout grew, the notoriety helped his business. He had a reputation as a physical man and reportedly intimidated rival arms-traders in West Africa. Mark Kramer, a Harvard academic who has followed his career, calls him ruthless and violent when necessary. His minions liked to boast of his nicknames. And the myth-making helped to advertise his advantages: linguistic fluency; contacts from warlords to presidents; his access to weapons; his ability to air-drop anything, anywhere (would you like a miniature sub parachuted to the jungle?).

But fame can be awkward, too. It helped to chase him from a comfortable home in South Africa (he may also have been worried about crime), then from the Middle East. In time his notoriety limited the travel that he loved. America put him on a blacklist of businessmen with whom it is illegal to trade.

He may perhaps have felt a little misunderstood, seeing himself as a canny entrepreneur, not a Bond villain. His accusers put little store in his concern for conservation, his love of animals, his wish to protect Congo’s forests, his earnest desire to help the pygmies of central Africa and his devotion to the Discovery television channel. Some of his critics may even have been jealous. He deployed more aircraft than do some countries.

Take-away chicken

His defenders describe him as nothing more dangerous than a flying lorry driver. If one week he made profits by dropping frozen chickens in west Africa, and the next by trading gladioli from Johannesburg to the Middle East, who was to care that, in between, he delivered a few million rounds of AK47 ammunition to a central African army? Americans did not object when he supplied an Antonov An-24 to deliver goods for their soldiers in post-invasion Iraq. So what if he is also rumoured to have ferried gun-toting and bearded men to and fro in the Middle East?

Certainly, he is no typical member of the Russian mafia. His clothes are understated but stylish; he favours a dark suit, a shirt open at the neck. No bling hangs on him; no scantily clad women sit on his knee dropping grapes into his mouth. At parties in Moscow, it is true, he was flanked by his bodyguards and young women who hovered, twittering at his unsmiling jokes. Supplicants also jostled to stand at his feet, wheedling for contracts, but that was how his business was done.

He liked to have the curious brought to him: at one party a British academic, who studies underworld types, was presented for a conversation. He left apparently impressed by the ironic twinkle in the Russian’s eyes, concluding that: “He is one of the most engaging merchants of death I have come across.”

His triumphs could not last. Mr Bout flourished in the interregnum between the cold war and the rise of Islamist terrorism. He was carried along by the same factors—the spread of communications technology, the easier flow of goods over borders, international transfers of money with few questions asked—that spurred globalisation. But when political conditions changed, Western governments began to worry that arms-dealers might be getting in league with terrorists. The space for Mr Bout began to shrink.

Being cautious and well-informed, Mr Bout knew that Westerners were trying to grab him. In 2002, as he flew from Moldova to Greece, he was somehow tipped off that British agents were waiting in Athens. The plane dropped him in a third country, leaving the spies to pounce on thin air. Two years later a trap was laid in Madrid but terrorist bombs intervened, preventing his travel. A dubious-sounding Moldovan firm had also, it is rumoured, once tried to lure him to Sudan, perhaps as a plan to have him snatched.

By 2008 the prospects of nabbing him looked remote. The two American authors who documented his career in “Merchant of Death” concluded that Western spies had “largely given up the chase”. Nor would Russia hand him over: Vladimir Putin had no wish to see America put a Russian in the dock and portray him as Dr Evil. It seemed that his story would end with seclusion in Moscow.

And yet, in March this year, his guard slipped. Mr Bout stepped off a plane in Thailand, made his way to the five-star Sofitel in Bangkok and checked into a 14th-floor suite. His wife, who runs a fashion business, says loyally that he had travelled to do a cookery course. Sergei Ivanov, a Russian MP, claims that he had gone “to gather information on the aviation and construction business”. His bodyguard offered a third story: they planned a great holiday and a visit to a medical centre.

Agents from America’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who recorded every word spoken by Mr Bout in his Bangkok hotel, tell a more convincing tale. The Russian made his way to a conference room on the 27th floor and met two men who, he believed, represented a left-wing Colombian group, the FARC. For roughly two hours they discussed how he would deliver on a long-planned arms deal.

He said that he understood the Colombians needed anti-aircraft weapons to shoot down American aircraft. And he offered to sell enough weapons to restart a large war: 700-800 surface-to-air missiles; 5,000 AK47 rifles; 3m rounds of ammunition; landmines; night-vision goggles; plus some “ultralight” aeroplanes that could be equipped with grenade launchers and missiles. He asked where American radar stations were located in Colombia and offered to sell two cargo planes for delivery of the goods. The price? A downpayment of at least $15m or $20m would do nicely.

The two men were also agents from the DEA who had spent months on the sting. Other agents and 50 local police had been staking out the building since dawn. The police burst in, guns drawn, and snapped handcuffs on Mr Bout, who merely cried out that “The game is over.”

As with so much of Mr Bout’s life, the sting could have been lifted from a Hollywood screenplay. The Russian now says that he was set up. In September the Russian parliament called for their businessman to be freed, condemning an effort to “damage the interests and reputation of Russia”. But an indictment by American prosecutors, listing grand-jury charges and evidence, shows how keen Mr Bout was to trade with the FARC.

The Americans had played a clever game. In January they duped a close collaborator of Mr Bout’s, Andrew Smulian, a Briton, into believing that three DEA agents, whom he met in Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles, were really from the FARC. They handed Mr Smulian $5,000 for expenses and told him that they wanted millions of dollars’ worth of weapons.

They gave him a mobile telephone which they claimed could not be monitored (it was, naturally). He rushed off to Moscow to discuss the deal. Mr Bout was cautious, asking Mr Smulian to pick out his contacts from photos of known FARC leaders, but even so he was somehow persuaded.

The disguised DEA agents then met Mr Smulian repeatedly, hopping between Copenhagen and Bucharest. Once Mr Smulian boasted that his boss was known as the “merchant of death”, and said that 100 surface-to-air missiles could be delivered immediately—for $5m they could be taken from Bulgaria and dropped where needed. At one meeting he flipped open a laptop to show pictures of armour-piercing rocket launchers and missiles that he said Mr Bout could provide, along with “special helicopters”.

Mr Smulian, eager for the lucrative exchange, convinced his boss that it was safe to go on. The Russian then agreed to close the deal in person and received an e-mail address ([email protected]) for communication. According to MotherJones.com, which published a detailed study of the sting, Mr Bout was poised to fly to Romania in February, where the DEA agents would have grabbed him. But at the last minute he was warned off by a nervous associate. Remarkably, however, he agreed to go instead to Bangkok.

Mr Smulian was also nabbed and now faces prosecution in New York. Mr Bout’s fate is still undecided. Prosecutors in New York want to try him for assisting a terrorist group and have spent the year seeking his extradition. Russia’s government wants him back. Thailand, too, may hope to prosecute him for dealing with terrorists.

For now he sits in Klong Prem special prison in Bangkok and appears, monthly or so, for extradition hearings. He has been humiliated by his arrest, and by his regular parade in unflattering prison garb of orange shorts and T-shirts. He scowls and laughs, walks in shackles and denies all wrongdoing. He has not dished dirt on his collaborators, but his reputation as a man who could outfox Western opponents is gone. He is thinner and his moustache has grown spikier. Difficult months await.

A big question remains. Why did he leave Moscow when he had proven so skilled at sniffing out risks? A comparison worth drawing is with his swashbuckling English equivalent, an old Etonian-turned-SAS-officer-turned-mercenary, Simon Mann, who launched a failed coup plot in Africa in 2004. The middle-aged Mr Mann pushed on with his hare-brained scheme even when he knew that he should have called it off. He was tempted by money and, perhaps more important, by the chance of a last adventure while showing off to his younger wife.

Mr Bout, too, had a myth to feed, money to make, a wife to impress and middle age creeping up. He may have disparaged his portrayal by Hollywood but he knew, too, that quiet retirement in Moscow was no way to keep a name in lights.

Cry havoc and unleash the hawgs of war - Otatsiihtaissiiststakio piksi makamo ta psswia

anlloge
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Re: Victor Bout

Mensaje por anlloge » 20 Ago 2010 14:18

Parece que Victor Bout tuvo la audiencia para la extradicción a a Estados Unidos, en este vídeo se le ve llegando al tribunal:

http://en.rian.ru/video/20100820/160271733.html

Por otra parte RT informa de que fue aceptada la extradicción:

TAILANDIA EXTRADITA AL EMPRESARIO RUSO VIKTOR BOUT A EE. UU.

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Un tribunal de apelación tailandés ordenó la extradición del empresario ruso Viktor Bout a Estados Unidos, país que le acusa de tráfico de armas ilegal. Las autoridades estadounidenses creen que el empresario de 42 años suministraba armamento a grupos terroristas, incluidas las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), insurgentes africanos y Al Qaeda.

Bout señaló a la agencia RIA Novosti que está dispuesto a defender su inocencia ante el tribunal estadounidense. La esposa del empresario, Alla, dijo que las autoridades rusas deberían hacer todo lo posible para prevenir la extradición de su marido a Estados Unidos y exigir a Tailandia que revise su decisión. Añadió que es poco probable que su marido tuviera un juicio justo en EE. UU. a causa del carácter político de las acusaciones.

A pesar de las numerosas demandas de extradición por parte de Estados Unidos, hasta el momento la justicia tailandesa ha rechazado extraditarlo alegando que la base probatoria de la acusación de Bout sobre su vinculación con las FARC estaba mal fundamentada.

Actualmente, a Bout y a su ex compañero norteamericano, Richard Chichakli, se les atribuye asociación ilícita con el propósito de violar la ley estadounidense que prohíbe cualquier tipo de operaciones ligadas con exportaciones de mercancías, tecnologías o servicios potencialmente dañinos para la seguridad por parte de empresas estatales o extranjeras sin una licencia especial.

Además les acusan de lavado de dinero, transferencia de dinero fraudulento y otros crímenes.

http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/int ... 12686.html

anlloge
Analista Base
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Mensajes: 234
Registrado: 08 Sep 2008 18:28

Re: Victor Bout

Mensaje por anlloge » 24 Ago 2010 19:24

Al parecer será extraditado mañana:

http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/int ... 12875.html

EL EMPRESARIO RUSO VÍKTOR BOUT SERÁ EXTRADITADO A EE. UU. EL 25 DE AGOSTO

La extradición del empresario ruso Víktor Bout de Tailandia a Estados Unidos se realizará el 25 de agosto, informó el semanal tailandés The Nation, citando a “una fuente bien informada”.

Antes se había sabido que la extradición de Bout se suspendía temporalmente porque el tribunal tailandés debía examinar los nuevos cargos en su contra presentados por parte de las autoridades norteamericanas. La extradición ha sido posible después de que la parte norteamericana retirara sus últimas acusaciones. Según el semanal, Bout será trasladado a EE. UU. en un avión especial.

Mientras tanto, la Cancillería rusa anunció que no dispone de información desde Tailandia sobre la fecha concreta de la posible extradición de Bout a EE. UU. “Por el momento no tenemos ninguna información oficial de la parte tailandesa sobre la fecha de la posible extradición”, informó en un comunicado.

Anteriormente, la Cancillería rusa se mostró contrariada por la negativa de las autoridades tailandesas a explicar la decisión sobre la extradición de Bout a Estados Unidos. La Cancillería señaló que esa decisión puede ser políticamente motivada e impuesta por la parte estadounidense. El Ministerio de Exteriores recordó que en agosto de 2009 el Tribunal Penal de Tailandia se negó a extraditar a Bout por falta de pruebas en su contra aportadas por EE. UU.

Actualmente el empresario está encarcelado en una celda de castigo de la prisión tailandesa llamada Bangkok Hilton. Su esposa ya presentó sus quejas por las duras condiciones en que se encuentra su marido que hasta pasa hambre. La mujer hizo un llamamiento a las autoridades rusas para que intervengan con el objetivo de mejorar la situación de su marido.

Víktor Bout es un ex oficial de la Fuerza Aérea soviética acusado por Estados Unidos de haber vendido armas a muy diversos grupos armados en varios continentes, incluida América del Sur, algo que él niega rotundamente. Fue detenido en marzo de 2008 en un hotel de Bangkok, después de reunirse con agentes estadounidenses que se hicieron pasar por miembros de la guerrilla de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

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