For years Bout eluded capture, building up a labyrinthine network of airlines selling weapons to order to dictators, rebels, despots and terror groups worldwide. He was hunted by the CIA, NSA, MI6, as well as sought by the United Nations for being their top global sanctions buster. Holed up in Moscow - from where he ran a suite of offices selling anything from AK47s to state-of-the-art helicopter gunships and anti-aircraft missiles - he was shielded by a Russian state that was a partner in his dark dealings.
In short, Bout appeared utterly invulnerable and beyond any hope of capture.
Step forward former SAS man Mike Snow. After serving in the Regiment, Snow had worked as a bush pilot across Africa, where he had got to know Bout well. Via its own secretive, shadow network, Snow was approached by two US agents from the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA). They had one question: was Snow able to get to Viktor Bout?.