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The trial of Viktor Bout offers window into murky world of arms trafficking

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The trial of Viktor Bout offers window into murky world of arms trafficking

Though his name is not widely known, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is linked to some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts.

AP/Drug Enforcement Administration

A five-year sting operation led by the Drug Enforcement Agency culminated in the conviction earlier this month of one of the world’s most notorious arms traffickers. The Russian national Viktor Bout was found guilty on all four charges, which included conspiracy to kill Americans and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.  Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 after the DEA’s paid informants arranged for him to sell a large cache of weapons and ammunition to what Bout thought was the FARC rebels in Colombia.

Though the DEA case took five years, many others have been tracking Bout’s arms dealing for much longer.

Kathi Lynn Austin first started monitoring Bout 15 years ago as an arms expert for the United Nations and then with the Conflict Awareness Project, an NGO she founded. Her field work helped federal prosecutors convict Bout and she attended every day of the trial, blogging about it for CNN.

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