CASH, chemicals, drugs, and gold: This is the incredible story of how a Zimbabwean programming genius became ‘the Jeff Bezos of the dark web’ by trafficking crystal meth from North Korea and selling missile technology to Iran.
Paul Le Roux, 46, made as much as $250million a year through the sale of illicit services via the dark web.
Le Roux’s life story reads like a Hollywood plot: an orphan from Zimbabwe who grew up to become a kingpin on the dark web, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year before he was arrested by the feds – only to then turn state’s witness and help bring down other hardcore criminals.
The man who has been dubbed ‘the Jeff Bezos of transnational organized crime’ was brought down by a subordinate who was angry he didn’t treat him to a $30 brunch, according to a new book.
The rise and fall of Le Roux, 46, who made as much as $250million a year selling drugs, weapons, and even the services of hitmen on the dark web is the subject of Elaine Shannon’s book Hunting Le Roux: The Inside Story of the DEA Takedown of a Criminal Genius and His Empire.
Last year, Le Roux told a federal courtroom in New York that he was guilty of a number of crimes, including selling missile technology to Iran; shipping guns from Indonesia; and smuggling crystal meth from North Korea.
He also admitted on the witness stand that he was responsible for at least five murders; supplying weapons to a 200-man militia in Somalia; and conspiring to use mercenaries to overthrow the government of the Seychelles.
During testimony, Le Roux was asked what products he had smuggled over the years, according to The New York Times.
‘Cash, chemicals, drugs, and gold,’ he said.
Le Roux also admitted to smuggling weapons. When asked to whom, he replied: ‘Rebels, warlords, criminals – and essentially anyone who had money.’
His testimony was given at the trial of three mercenaries that he allegedly hired in 2012 to kill a Filipino real estate agent because he suspected she was stealing from him.
That same year, Le Roux was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration after he was lured to Liberia.
Le Roux went on the trip believing that he was going to meet senior members of the Colombian drug cartel.
In reality, however, the trip was a set-up by ‘Jack,’ an underling who agreed to go undercover and help the CIA catch Le Roux, according to the New York Post.
‘Jack’, angry over the way he was treated by Le Roux, convinced his boss that Colombian cartel figures were interested in getting into the crystal meth trade, but they first wanted to meet him face-to-face.
Le Roux always knew better than to go to meeting himself. He would always send subordinates or others to represent him.
This time, however, Le Roux was fearful that if he didn’t meet the Colombians himself, he risked offending them.
When Le Roux arrived at the hotel in Liberia where the meeting took place, he had no idea he was talking to a DEA agent who was secretly recording him admit to a number of crimes.
When he was arrested moments later, the two DEA agents who were there to take him into custody needed to use their strength to haul his 350-pound body because Le Roux decided to ‘play dead’ and not go along.
In her book, Shannon, a crime reporter, reveals a number of interesting details about Le Roux’s life as a wanted criminal.
Before turning to crime, he was a genius computer programmer who developed encryption software in the 1990s.
But by the late 2000s, he used his internet savvy to traffic in drugs, weapons, and mafia-style services like murder-for-hire.
He even had an army of mercenaries that were ready to spring into action across four continents.
Le Roux’s goal was to create an ‘online superstore that aspired to sell anything anybody might want.’
As if that weren’t enough, we learn about Le Roux’s eccentric personal life. Twice divorced, he is believed to have fathered at least 11 children with wives, girlfriends, and mistresses in several countries.
Le Roux was also known to have homes in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and other locations.
After he was arrested and put on a plane for New York, he told the DEA agents: ‘Well played, gentlemen…but if you’re looking at me, you’re obviously looking for bigger things.’
That led to Le Roux cooperating with the government in exchange for limited immunity and a reduced sentence.
Le Roux managed to help authorities arrest his co-conspirators, who never suspected he was working with the U.S. government.
Several individuals have been convicted as a result of Le Roux’s assistance.
As per his cooperation agreement with the federal government, Le Roux won’t stand trial until all the appeals of the people he helped arrest will be exhausted – this despite the fact that he would face between 10 years to life for the crime he has admitted to.
The DEA says that Le Roux is in federal custody, though it declined to go into specifics.
He was released from a detention center in Brooklyn in 2013.
The book, which is published by William Morrow, goes on sale Tuesday.
Famed Hollywood director Michael Mann is adapting the book for a feature film. — DailyMail