Infamous arms dealer goes on trial

(By Deutsche Welle) The trial of the world’s most infamous arms dealer, Viktor Bout, has got underway in New York. Yet around the globe, most dealers operate with impunity because they supply the demand for a hot commodity.

The consequences of Viktor Bout’s business stretch from Afghanistan to Colombia. For nearly two decades, Bout allegedly peddled arms to some of the world’s poorest countries so they could fight its most devastating wars.

Yet he also reportedly transported UN peacekeepers to Somalia, flew cargo to Iraq for the US government, and delivered flowers from South Africa to Dubai.

Many arms dealers today have no identifiable ideology. They have no enduring allegiances. And they believe in no greater political cause. They represent a nihilism that seeks consolation by making money through any means available – legal and illegal, moral and immoral.

Bout was arrested in Thailand after trying to sell weapons to US undercover agents posing as members of the Colombian rebel group FARC. He was eventually extradited to the US, however, Russian authorities are outraged that Bout – a Russian national – is now set to face trial in an American court.

Although Bout may face justice, the trade he practiced operates with the tacit sanction of nations around the world. Arms dealers are rarely held accountable, because they provide an essential service for a lucrative undertaking: war.

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Indictments of European gun dealers expose business of war

(By Deutsche Welle) A legal drama involving three European gun dealers offers a rare look into the small arms trade. The case exposes a murky global supply chain that seeks to fill Defense Department demand for guns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The growing legal case against three European gun dealers accused of trafficking weapons parts into the United States has shed unique light on the morally and legally ambiguous international trade in small arms.

German national Karl Kleber and British nationals Gary Hyde and Paul Restorick have been indicted for selling 5,760 AK-47 drum magazines to an arms dealer in Chili, New York. The 75-round drum magazines are of Chinese origin, making them illegal under America’s 20-year-old arms embargo against Beijing.

Kleber has since pleaded guilty to the smuggling charges and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement. According to his plea agreement, Kleber will share his knowledge of the illegal small arms trade as well as any information “related to terrorism, genocide or war crimes activity.”

Although the illegal drum magazines landed in the inventory of a licensed arms importer in New York, they were originally destined to fulfill a subcontract indirectly tied to the Defense Department. The case reveals a murky global supply chain that seeks to supply the demand for small arms in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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