Thai police detain top international arms smuggler

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Bangkok, Mar 7 (UNI) Thai police have detained a Russian national wanted in several countries for supplying arms to insurgent groups and warring factions in South America, Africa and central Asia.

Victor Bout was arrested in a Bangkok luxury hotel yesterday in an operation that involved United States and Thai law enforcement agencies.

The 41-year-old former Soviet air force pilot dubbed the ''merchant of death,'' is accused of supplying weapons to rebels in Colombia and warring sides in several countries reeling under civil conflict in Africa and Central Asia, using the cover of his air cargo business.

''We have followed him for several months. He just came back to Thailand today,'' the commander of Thailand's crime suppression division Major General Pongpat Chayaphan, said.

''We will take legal action against him here, before deporting him to face trial in another country, (most) likely the US,'' he added.

UNI XC SZ RAI1022

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