Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, issued the following statement upon learning of today's guilty verdict in the trial of Viktor Bout:
"This man has done irreparable damage across the world -- arming insurgents, militias and terrorists. Sadly, his 'Merchant of Death' moniker was well-earned."
"Hats off to the gutsy DEA agents who pulled-off the sting to arrest Bout and the U.S. attorneys who oversaw the case. The Thai government did the right thing handing over this menace."
"Today's guilty verdict is even more gratifying given the battle to get Bout into a U.S. courtroom," said Royce, referring to the more than two-year up and down legal struggle to see Bout extradited from Thailand to the United States.
After Bout's arrest in Thailand in 2008, Royce spearheaded congressional efforts to see that Viktor Bout was extradited. In August 2010, on the eve of a crucial court hearing, Royce led a congressional letter to the Thai government, pressing for Bout's extradition. In addition, Royce authored an op-ed which appeared in the Washington Post, calling for stepped-up U.S. engagement to see that Bout was not set free.
A jury in New York found Bout guilty of all four charges against him, which included conspiring to kill United States citizens and attempting to arm a Colombian terrorist organization know as the FARC. Bout could face life in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for February 8, 2012.
Prior to his arrest, Bout fueled many brutal civil wars on the African continent and elsewhere through the illicit sale of arms, breaking international arms embargos. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor relied on Bout to arm his reign of terror in West Africa, violently suppressing opposition to his corrupt rule in Liberia and arming allies in neighboring countries. In Afghanistan, Bout simultaneously armed the Taliban and the Northern Alliance and is linked to international terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and al-Shabaab.