FARC arms supplier arrested in Thailand

AP/NY Times:

One of the world's most notorious arms dealers was arrested Thursday in Bangkok on allegations that he supplied Colombian rebels with arms and explosives, Thai police said.

Russian Viktor Bout was arrested in his hotel room in the capital, Bangkok, on a warrant issued by a Thai court, said Police Lt. Gen. Pongpat Chayapan, head of the Crime Suppression Bureau. The warrant stemmed from an earlier one issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, he said.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman ''congratulated'' Thai police for the arrest but could not provide details about the role U.S. officials played in it.

Police Col. Petcharat Sengchai told reporters that Bout was wanted on charges of ''procuring weapons and explosives for Colombian rebels'' known as the Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia or FARC. The leftist FARC has been fighting Colombia's government for more than four decades, and funds itself largely through the cocaine trade and kidnaps for ransom and political ends.

Bout, a murky figure rarely seen in public, has also been accused of trafficking weapons to Central and West Africa since the early 1990s. United Nations reports say he set up a network of more than 50 aircraft around the world and trade experts have said the illicit diamond trade was likely one source of funds for his smuggled arms shipments.


The story does not indicate how he was found, but the arrest came only days after Colombia recovered a laptop computer in a raid on a FARC sanctuary in Ecuador. It is not clear how much of a blow this will be for FARC because Venezuela may be less covert in its support for the narco terrorist now.

The arrest is good news for not just Colombia. Bout has been supplying arms for terrorist operations in Asia and Africa. The story does not indicate that he has done any deals with people like al Qaeda, but that is probably more their scruples than his.


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