Assuming bullets sell in Somalia for USD 0.75
July 28, 2009 5:02 PM   Subscribe

The Adventures Of A Would Be Arms Dealer (PDF) is an eight-page comic illustrating how an illegal arms deal works in practice. Via.
posted by Fiasco da Gama (16 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Wow…that seems mind-bogglingly easy, actually.

And the distance that he was able to keep between himself and the people using the bullets, to keep them out of sight and mind, would only make it easier.

That is terrible.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:22 PM on July 28, 2009

Ok, I looked at this, and I'm still more worried by the legal arms trade than the illegal.

Is there a pill I can take to feel better?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:29 PM on July 28, 2009

Coral Cache link of the pdf
posted by acro at 5:43 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whoa. Amazing, but - not too surprising, this - banal.
posted by jquinby at 6:16 PM on July 28, 2009

Woohoo! Horn of Africa, here I come!
posted by Xoebe at 6:41 PM on July 28, 2009

The crucial line here was 'assuming bullets sell for about USD 0.75 in Somalia'. Well, assuming that I don't have to find the buyer and I can pick my own selling price, pretty much any transaction is going to be both simple and profitable.

This does not mean the actual process is (including the risk of being stiffed by the buyer).
posted by jaduncan at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Anyone who was interested in this might enjoy Lord of War (Wikipedia page), starring Nicolas Cage.
posted by djgh at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2009

Lord of War, which djgh mentions above, is actually a rather decent film, despite starring Nicolas Cage. I might even go so far as to say I'd recommend watching it.
posted by Dysk at 7:58 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I wasn't sure whether mentioning Cage served as an endorsement or a warning.

Likewise, what does Amnesty's endorsement say about its cinematic merits?

It's like my mother recommending a movie because it's "based on a true story". The number of times I've had to tell her it's not necessarily good because it's true....oy
posted by djgh at 8:07 PM on July 28, 2009

I quite like how no reason whatever is given for the assumption of 75 US cents a bullet, other than the convenience of the figures.
posted by Dysk at 8:21 PM on July 28, 2009

This is easy. Now I just need a half million bucks...damnit!

Cage isn't that bad. His earlier films still far outweigh his later stuff.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:24 PM on July 28, 2009

This is easy. Now I just need a half million bucks...damnit!

Make that $510k. You'll need 10 grand to fly there and make a few local contacts. Spend some time picking up a useful language at

Anyone else feeling a Mefi Project starting to gel?
posted by codswallop at 10:47 PM on July 28, 2009

Very interesting - thanks for posting.

I spent a lot of time working on the ground in Africa, and once when I was exiting Ghana there was "some difficulty" with my paperwork (we didn't enter the country the right way, long story) and I unexpectedly had to spent about three weeks in a hotel while folks back in London were sorting it out.

A typical day would have me rising, hassling London about my situation and then wandering off to kill some time. Local markets, grab some grub, some time in the bush, cinema, whatever. Every evening would end in my hotel's bar and that was where I ran into one of these guys.

I don't know what the hell he was doing hanging around the hotel, but after a couple of night familiar faces stick out, especially so white ones amid the ever changing backdrop of flight crews, travelers and the odd local that liked to mix with an international crowd. So we'd share a table and a few drinks and have us a chat.

After three nights, without sharing too many personal details he was pretty upfront about what he was doing, and how. Without getting into specifics this comic is fairly spot on in many places, although from what my - ahemm, acquaintance - told me there was far, far more government involvement. In lots of these nations the military is both underpaid and has stewardship of assets capable of eliminating many of the issues presented; airlift capability not a problem, nor is paperwork and sometimes even the weapons and consumables themselves. Crossing borders for a drop is also easy to arrange, as often these nations don't really care for each other too much, and getting paid for stirring up trouble for folks you don't like is double plus good for dirty officers. Its a big problem down there.

Anyway, although I was in Ghana for another two weeks, after that third night I changed bars. This guy was very normal to look at, held his own in topical conversation but when I first met him there was something that I just couldn't put my finger on, something that made me a tad uneasy, almost a "don't leave change on the bar when hitting the head" kind of wary. And once I knew, well.

Thinking back on it with the benefit of about a decades hindsight, organising my thoughts about life experiences as I tend to do, now he just seemed like a very, very superficial character. No doubt some of that impression is formed by a pronounced lack of personal information, but I couldn't help but wonder at the time "does this guy even think about what the results of his actions are?" Coasting along on what he perceived to be a good thing, a highly cash flow positive enterprise, but with no consideration of how destablising on a grand scale his actions were.

When l lived in New York (Lower East Side, 1984 to 1997) I learned the worst kind of drug dealers were the ones that didn't reside where they sold their wares. Someone might sell pot from their flat but almost nobody is gonna be pitching meth from their lounge, at least for long, as bad shit happens around that drug.

Near as I could tell from my brief interaction the guy I met had never been to the places he fucked about with. Spread some cash, organise a deal, dispatch some death, all from a distance.

There really has to be a special place in hell for folks like that.
posted by Mutant at 4:57 AM on July 29, 2009 [10 favorites]

Very interesting. Looks disturbingly easy from this information.
posted by 999 at 8:16 AM on July 29, 2009

This is easy. Now I just need a half million bucks...damnit!

You don't even need that. All you need is someone willing to lend it to you.
posted by deanc at 12:14 PM on July 29, 2009

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