Trial of accused Russian arms dealer nears end

Former Soviet military officer and arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout  arrives at Westchester County Airport November 16, 2010 in New York.

Story highlights

  • The jury is expected to reconvene Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT
  • Viktor Bout is accused of trying to sell weapons to agents posing as Colombian rebels
  • Bout's life inspired the movie "Lord of War," starring Nicolas Cage
Juror deliberations got under way Tuesday in the case against alleged Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, marking a near-end to the high-profile trial.
Bout is charged with a wide range of counts, including conspiracy to kill Americans, attempting to sell arms to undercover federal agents, wire fraud and violating U.N. Security Council sanctions.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan McGuire on Tuesday boasted that the evidence against Bout "is overwhelming," pointing to alleged ties with a variety of armed conflicts.
"He did everything he could to show that he could be a one-stop shop" for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said McGuire.
The jury is expected to reconvene Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT.
Bout, widely dubbed "the Merchant of Death" and often referred to by American officials as among the most notorious of global arms traffickers, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
His attorney, Albert Dayan, said the former Soviet air force officer was not involved in illegal arms sales, telling jurors that federal agents baited Bout into selling the weapons alongside a deal to sell airplanes.
'Merchant of Death' goes on trial
'Merchant of Death' goes on trial


    'Merchant of Death' goes on trial


'Merchant of Death' goes on trial 02:23
Dayan says his client has been unfairly charged.
The heart of the charges against Bout stem from a 2008 sting operation in Thailand by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. According to a 2008 federal indictment, undercover agents posing as FARC rebels attempted to buy larges caches of weapons from Bout.
Agents tried to buy 700 to 800 surface-to-air missiles, thousands of AK-47s, and landmines, according to the indictment. They told Bout that they wanted the arms "to kill Americans," to which Bout said that he "was going to prepare everything the FARC needed."
Before the arrest, the DEA had struggled to draw Bout out of his Russian homeland, which had long sheltered and defended him. Undercover agents met with Bout's associates the world over, from Curacao to Copenhagen, in an attempt to set up a meeting with their target, according to the indictment.
He was extradited to the United States in 2010 following protracted court proceedings in Thailand.
Critics accuse Bout of providing larger and more powerful arms to rebels in several countries and fueling bloody conflicts in places such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The 2005 movie "Lord of War," starring Nicolas Cage, was inspired by Bout's life.