NY judge gives ex-Soviet arms dealer 25 years

LARRY NEUMEISTER TOM HAYS Associated Press Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- A notorious Russian arms dealer dubbed the Merchant of Death has been sentenced in New York to 25 years in prison following his conviction on terrorism charges that grew from a U.S. sting operation.

Viktor Bout (boot) was sentenced Thursday. The judge also ordered a $15 million forfeiture.

The ex-Soviet officer had been jailed since his arrest four years ago in Thailand after he met U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration operatives posing as agents of a Colombian terrorism group. He was extradited to the U.S. for trial in 2010.

Prosecutors say the 45-year-old Bout was ready to sell up to $20 million in weapons including surface-to-air missiles to shoot down U.S. helicopters. They portrayed him as among the world's worst villains.

Bout has insisted he's a legitimate businessman. His lawyer says the case is "the product of outrageous, inexcusable government conduct."