Merchant of Death cited in investigative consortium report on arms trafficking

A recent report on arms trafficking by the Global Investigative Journalism Network cites Merchant of Death and its probing into the activities of imprisoned Russian arms transporter Viktor Bout as a case study in reporting on weapons networks.

A October 4 report by Khadija Sharife, an investigative journalist with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, cites Merchant of Death as part of a GIJN series covering global organized crime. The OCCRP, founded in 2006, is a group of investigative centers, media and journalists spanning Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Central America.

Sharife’s account on the Global Investigative Journalism Network website ( describes Bout as “perhaps the world’s biggest arms trafficker. He was called the globe’s `most efficient postman,’ for delivering all types of cargo — especially illicit weapons.”

She adds: “Relying on interviews with diplomatic personnel and individuals dedicated to tracking Bout’s activities, Bout’s personal acquaintances, and Bout himself, investigators Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun wrote a book about him: “Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible.”

Bout is serving a 25 year prison sentence in a medium-security federal prison in Marion, Ill. for his 2011 conviction for conspiring to target U.S. officials with lethal weapons during a U.S. government sting operation featuring informants posing as South American narcoterrorists. Bout is scheduled to be released from the mostly-underground prison in 2029.

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