Meet the 'Merchant of Death' Biden Just Traded for Brittney Griner

(AP Photo/Drug Enforcement Administration, File)

Viktor Bout, arms dealer to terrorists and worse, who more than earned his “Merchant of Death” sobriquet — is once more a free man. But who is he?

The world’s most successful arms merchant was born 55 years ago, an ethnic Ukrainian in Soviet Tajikistan, part of Turkic Central Asia. Also known as “Sanctions Buster,” Bout got his start in arms dealing during the chaotic years after the fall of the Soviet Union.


That heavily militarized former superpower left everything from state-of-the-art jets and tanks to nuclear missiles and bombers — all scattered around newly-independent countries like Ukraine and Kazakhstan. There were lots of shady deals to be made with cash-strapped governments and high-ranking military officers.

Bout reportedly smuggled more than $32 billion in various weapons out of Ukraine during the ’90s. It was during this same time period — 1994, to be exact — that then-President Bill Clinton was negotiating the Budapest Memorandum between the Russian Federation and several former Soviet Republics, including Ukraine. Kyiv agreed to give up former Soviet nuclear weapons and delivery systems in exchange for security guarantees that turned out worthless.

Maybe the best that can be said about the Budapest Memorandum is that it may have prevented Bout from getting his hands on any nuclear warheads — because this guy will sell to literally anybody. Part of his 2012 conviction in a New York federal court was for attempting to buy and sell antiaircraft missiles to terrorist organizations for use against passenger jets.

Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and Moscow has been trying to get him released ever since:

“For a long time, the Russian Federation has been negotiating with the United States on the release of V. A. Bout,” the ministry said in a statement. “Washington categorically refused dialogue on the inclusion of the Russian [citizen] in the exchange scheme. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation continued to actively work to rescue our compatriot.”


If you have to ask why the Kremlin would be so eager to get a terror sponsor released from prison, I can give you two answers. The first is that Bout has almost certainly been paying kickbacks — protection money, really — to the criminal clique that runs the Russian Federation. The other, at least according to several European governments, is that Russia is itself a terrorist state.

But back to Bout.

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In the early 2000s, he got heavily involved in trafficking weapons to various African dictators and thugs, including Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. He is believed sometimes to have been working at the behest of Russian intelligence.

He was arrested by Thai authorities in 2008 after a sting operation involving a paid DEA informant. Bout was involved, he thought, in a conspiracy to supply Russian antiaircraft and armor-piercing rocket launchers to FARC, the Communist rebel group in Colombia. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2010, and charged with “conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill American officers or employees, and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile.”

Other charges included wire fraud and money laundering.


“He was finally brought to justice in an American court,” successful prosecuting attorney Preet Bharara said at the time, “for agreeing to provide a staggering number of military-grade weapons to an avowed terrorist organization committed to killing Americans.”

This is the guy Presidentish Joe Biden just sprung from prison in exchange for a basketball player stupid enough to bring her personal stash of drugs into a country like Russia.

Viktor Bout, Merchant of Death


But we will.


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