'Merchant of Death' conspirator arrested
A 2010 photo of Victor Bout who has been sentenced to 25-years in jail for illegal arms deals
January 10th, 2013
11:27 AM ET

'Merchant of Death' conspirator arrested

By Alanne Orjoux

A man accused of working with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout is under arrest in Australia, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Thursday.

Richard Ammar Chichakli was arrested Wednesday by Australian authorities at the request of the United States, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release.

Chichakli, a U.S. and Syrian citizen, is accused of conspiring with Bout and others to buy two planes in the United States to transport weapons to conflict zones in violation of international sanctions, the release said.

He's charged with money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud in connection with the attempted aircraft purchases, the government said.

"The international law enforcement community has long recognized Richard Chichakli as a key criminal facilitator in Viktor Bout's global weapons trafficking regime and his arrest means the world is safer and more secure," Leonhart said. "Bout merged drug cartels with terrorist enablers, and his close associate, Chichakli, worked to ensure they could ship weapons and conduct illicit business around the world. DEA continues to forge strong partnerships worldwide and applauds our Australian police partners."

If convicted, Chichakli would face as many as 20 years in prison for each of the counts against him.

His alleged former cohort, Bout, is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States after being convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Nicknamed the "merchant of death," Bout armed "some of the most violent conflicts around the globe," Bharara said last April.

"The arms Bout has sold or brokered have fueled conflicts and supported regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan," the government said in its news release Thursday.

The prosecution said that during a 2008 sting operation by U.S. drug enforcement agents in Thailand, Bout believed he was selling weapons to Colombian guerrillas. His attorneys argued that Bout was picked out by the United States government and lured into a crime manufactured by the DEA, in which the agency played "the role of judge, jury and executioner. "


Filed under: Legal
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. dog4dog

    how much you wanna bet some old soviet uranium is in that mans stockpile of arms, i bet when the union collapsed some soviet cornel was not getting paid by the new democracy and sold suitcase nukes to the russian mob, the first nuke iran gets will be from italian uranium but the first one that goes off in the us will likely be from old soviet stockpiles, saddam had old soviet scientist working for him, the news reported two muslims captured with refined uranium in turkey back in 2007, i bet this man has access to nuclear power

    January 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Reply
    • dog4dog

      and i will say this, torture is fully justified in situations like this, those muslims who had the refined uranium would have been cooked alive if it was up to me, i would bake them at 400 degrees fahrenheit once i was done with them, nobody has business with those types of weapons

      January 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  2. George Patton

    Just who do these cursed Aussies think they are anyway? And who are they to arrest Victor Bout when they're no better than he is. It's these friggin' Aussies who are now in Afghanistan killing people who don't deserve to die, not Victor Bout!!!

    January 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      You nailed it good, George. Thank you.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  3. me

    They should have charged him with accessory to murder and put him in for ever and ever, along with this piece of s**t the Australians arrested.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Reply

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