By Maxmilian Wechsler
THE arrest of former Soviet military interpreter Viktor Anatolyevich Bout, sensationalized in the media as the “Merchant of Death,” has got to be one of the most controversial cases involving a foreigner in the annals of Thai law enforcement.
Accused of weapons trafficking and supplying arms and logistics for bloody conflicts in Africa, Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, Mr Bout was arrested in Bangkok on March 6, 2009, in the 27th floor conference room of Sofitel Silom Hotel (now Pullman Bangkok Hotel G).
It was the culmination of an elaborate sting codenamed “Operation Relentless” and led by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA undercover agents posed as members of the Colombian rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which the US considered a terrorist organization.