Operation Relentless: The Hunt for the Richest, Deadliest Criminal in History

By 2007 Viktor Bout had become the world's foremost arms dealer.

Known as the 'Merchant of Death' he was "Public Enemy No. 1" to Western agencies - a ruthless criminal worth around $6 billion. By his own admission he was second only to Osama Bin Laden on the most-wanted list.

Damien Lewis, Author of Operation Relentless, says Bout was given a fair trial in America and opted not to have a defence.

Also read: Book reveals how Madonsela slept on the floor of her Soweto home growing up

He didn't speak during his own defence and he called no witnesses. I would imagine he didn't want any of the secrets he is privy to being connected in the Russian regime to come out in the court hearing.

Damien Lewis, Author of Operation Relentless

Lewis goes on to say that Bout specialised in flying anything to anywhere, for anyone at any time as long as the price was right. He says Bout did a lot of legitimate and illegitimate business.

This is how he first came to the attention of authorities in the UK and US by flying planes into Africa carrying diamonds.

Damien Lewis, Author of Operation Relentless

Lewis says Bout was hunted by authorities in the United States and most of Europe for almost two decades.

Listen to the full interview in the clip below:

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