Who is Viktor Bout and why do so many feel the U.S. was the loser in the exchange for Brittney Griner

There's been prisoner swaps in the past that were more advantageous for the U.S. than Russia. But in this instance, the U.S. is freeing an arms dealer who wanted to shoot down U.S. helicopters.

Viktor Bout has been described as one of the most dangerous men on the face of the earth.


"He would be what I would call evil incarnate," said Richard Sindelar, Director of The Center for International Studies at the University of Saint Thomas. "They've written a novel and done a movie about him. He is the worst of the worst."

In 2011, Bout was convicted on terrorism charges.

Prosecutors say he discussed shipping an arsenal of military grade weapons to attack American helicopters in Colombia.

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He was sentenced to 25 years and wasn't due for release until August 2029.

"Merchant of Death," Sindelar said. "He's had some other nicknames too that are just as bad as that, but Merchant of Death is pretty much exactly it."

"That's all in my view is what Brittney Griner has been about is a political issue for Putin, to use for political purposes," said FOX 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico. 

Tritico points out Putin first used Griner's detention to deflect from Russia invading Ukraine.

"The deal that Russia took today was made months and months ago and Putin wouldn't take it why? Because he was trying to affect the midterm elections," said Tritico. "He wanted to make the Biden Administration look weak, so the Republicans would do better in the midterm elections that's what this is all about."

Should Americans worry about the Merchant of Death's return to Russia?

"My own personal suspicion is that he is still actively a GRU member, that he's not on the official payroll, but he's still one of theirs," Sindelar said.