HONG KONG, China - A man believed to be the world’s largest arms dealer, suspected of supplying weapons to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, has been arrested in Thailand following a multi-country operation with support from INTERPOL.
Viktor Bout, who is accused by US authorities of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, was arrested by the Royal Thai Police at a hotel in Bangkok on Thursday.
The day of Bout’s arrest, US authorities circulated a worldwide diffusion for the 41-year-old via INTERPOL channels to all 186 member countries and later requested the issue of an INTERPOL Red Notice , or international wanted persons notice.
“This multi-country operation culminating in the arrest of Viktor Bout in Thailand is a model for how suspected dangerous international criminals need to be investigated, charged and brought to justice in the 21st century,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
“This investigation, led by highly trained, professional and dedicated law enforcement officers from a number of countries, blended modern technology with traditional human observation and surveillance techniques in order to track the conspiracy as it was unfolding.
“While this was clearly an international operation, each country’s sovereignty was respected with all available national and international legal tools, including an INTERPOL diffusion and Red Notice, used in support of the investigation resulting in the successful arrest of the suspect,” added Mr Noble.
Many INTERPOL member countries view a Red Notice as the basis for the provisional arrest of a wanted person with a view to their extradition. It can be requested by any of INTERPOL’s 186 member countries, and is issued by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat in Lyon, France.
The charges on which the INTERPOL Red Notice was based were brought by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J Garcia, a former Vice-President for the Americas on INTERPOL’s Executive Committee.
“The arrest of Viktor Bout in Thailand is an excellent example of the outstanding co-operation among the international police community in general and between the U.S. and Thailand in particular, and shows the importance of INTERPOL as a key global network,” said Martin Renkiewicz, Director of INTERPOL’s US National Central Bureau.
“It also illustrates the effectiveness of INTERPOL in fighting terrorism, and in locating and arresting those that support terrorism such as Bout. I am particularly pleased to be attending the INTERPOL Asian Regional Conference in Hong Kong while this arrest occurred so that I can personally thank my Thai colleagues for their assistance.”