Arms dealer Viktor Bout, blamed for arming Al Qaeda, receives 25 years in prison (+video)
The former Soviet officer was convicted last fall of conspiring to kill American citizens, officers, and employees by agreeing to sell weapons to FARC, which he believed was "intent on killing Americans," The New York Times reports. The deal included "tens of thousands of AK-47 rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, hundreds of missiles, ultra-lightweight airplanes and other military equipment."
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Bout, but the fact that he was captured in a sting appeared to work in his favor, the Associated Press reports. US District Judge Shira Scheindlin said that 25 years was sufficient because "there was no evidence … Bout would have been charged with seeking to harm Americans if not approached by informants posing as Colombian rebels."
According to AP, Bout ran a global cargo operation "from Afghanistan to Angola" for almost two decades, reportedly building up a fortune of $6 billion. He delivered everything from "raw minerals to gladiolas, drilling equipment to frozen fish," but his specialty was black-market weapons from Russian stocks and Eastern European factories. His trafficking inspired the Nicholas Cage film "Lord of War."