U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said the sting had established the suspects' criminality. "For Bout and Smulian the arms deal was very real," he said. "They demonstrated their willingness to both support a terrorist organization and their capacity to do so. They knew the weapons they agreed to sell were destined for a terrorist organization."
Federal prosecutors will seek to extradite Bout to face charges in the United States, and earlier Thursday Russian law enforcement officials told the official Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that Russia may seek Bout's extradition as well.
Although Bout has been wanted by many countries, Russia has never investigated him. Russia is reluctant to allow the extradition of its citizens to other countries, and the move could hamper the Justice Department's efforts.
The DEA has had recent success in tracking down some of the world's most prolific arms traders who have tried to sell weapons to the FARC.
The Bout apprehension follows the June 2007 arrest of alleged arms dealer Monzer al Kassar and two of his associates by the DEA, along with the Spanish National Police. Kassar, known as the "The Prince of Marbella," is believed to be responsible for numerous arms deals across the Middle East, including some with elements of the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. officials.
"These are the engines that have fed the mayhem around the world for years and years," a federal official involved in the investigation of Bout said.