From the programmer to the crime boss: The amazing story of Paul le Roux

hits A hotel room in Monrovia, Liberia, in September 2012: Paul le Roux, a genius programmer from southern Africa with a penchant for criminal business, with a

From the programmer to the crime boss: The amazing story of Paul le Roux

hits A hotel room in Monrovia, Liberia, in September 2012: Paul le Roux, a genius programmer from southern Africa with a penchant for criminal business, with a man named Pepe, in turn, Boss of a Colombian drug cartel. Pepe wants to sell in addition to cocaine in the future of Crystal Meth to North America and Europe, le Roux, even for some time in the Meth business, is to deliver the raw materials and, with its Connections to the structure of the drugs laboratories in West Africa to help. Doesn't know what le Roux: The Meeting is a trap set by agents of the American Anti-drug Agency DEA. A hidden camera is filming the conversation. On the same day, le Roux from Liberia is arrested-African police officers and a short time later extradited to the United States.

The criminal network of the Paul le Roux

Paul le Roux, born as the son of white parents in Bulawayo in the former Rhodesia and grew up in Krugersdorp, South Africa, the investigators of this time, probably the busiest man Internet gangsters of the world to the network. His criminal career spans half the globe. In the course of several lawsuits against him and former Partner, stranger Details always come to light.

the heart and the starting point for his criminal organization is the online pharmacies network RX Limited, the generated with the illegal sale of prescription painkillers every year, hundreds of millions of euros in sales. The large demand for painkillers during the Opioid crisis in the U.S. makes le Roux in the mid-2000s to the millionaire, but soon he shall still return to orientation in the shops: From his headquarters in the Philippines, he is smuggling methamphetamine from North Korea, shipped tons of cocaine to Australia, is responsible for getting arms deals in Indonesia and washes his Online million Gold from Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Gaddafi's Gold, and a planned coup

But that's not enough: Iran le Roux offers a middle-man with a rocket steering system to purchase. In Somalia, he wants to get in on a large scale into the tuna fish, weapons, and drugs, can a private village, built and maintains for the protection of the Operation, more than 200 man strong militia. The project is canceled after some time, it gives him even a mention in a report by the UN security Council. In court, he confesses also his involvement in several contract killings, including one of his own hired killer.

Even more incredible is the clearly verifiable stories to le Roux are. So he's supposed to be, according to statements from former employees and business partners, plans have been involved to smuggle the Gold of the Libyan ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi to South Africa, and should be planned with a squad of international mercenaries and even a coup in the Seychelles. "He forged constantly, such plans," says the Journalist Evan Ratliff, author of "The Mastermind", an extensively researched non-fiction book about le Roux. "And when Paul le Roux, you have to take seriously, because he implemented many of his crazy ideas actually."

conflicts influenced his Childhood

In search of explanations for le Rouxs seemingly boundless criminal energy Ratliff refers to in his Childhood and youth in the political turmoil dominated southern Africa in the 1970s and 80s. Although le Roux have enjoyed the statements of Relatives and Acquaintances, according to, in spite of the civil war, a relatively sheltered Childhood in Zimbabwe, Ratliff. But le Rouxs ideas about what is legal and illegal, had been shaped by the environment in Bulawayo probably crucial.

"things like precious metal smuggling or business in the grey areas of the Law were Interview in the eyes of many, is not per se wrong, simply because there were in the Region at the time, so many conflicts and Chaos," explains Ratliff in the DW. This could be an explanation for that le Roux had, at least at the beginning of his criminal career no moral objections to illegal transactions.

From the programmer to the gangster boss

in 1984, only a short time after the end of white minority rule in present-day Zimbabwe, is leaving le Roux with his adoptive parents, the country in the direction of South Africa. The family moved to Krugersdorp, approximately 25 kilometres North-West of Johannesburg. There, the Teenager had become the introverted outsider, explains Ratliff: "He hated to be in South Africa, he hated his classmates." At this time, he face-to-face for the first time in the computer world, and finally he dropped out of high school to devote himself entirely to the program.

in The 1990s, le Roux spends in London, Hong Kong and Amsterdam, where he, as a developer of Open-Source encryption software E4M a name. E4M is considered to be the Basis of the encryption program Truecrypt, with the Whistleblower Edward Snowden suggest that the US-secret service NSA and its problems had to have. Le Roux does not succeed, however, its ground-breaking make developments to money. After a dispute with his former employer, he goes underground in 2002.

A separate Kingdom in Africa?

To Africa have pulled out le Roux in the course of his criminal career again and again, says Elaine Shannon, investigative journalist and author of "Hunting LeRoux", which deals with the hunt for le Roux by special agents of the U.S. Anti-drug Agency DEA. "He saw Africa as a place where he could do what he wanted," Shannon says in a DW Interview. "He wanted to be left alone, his own rules, his own Kingdom create. And Africa was, for him, the place where everything was possible - with the necessary money."

want to create le Roux, the many former associates describe as openly racist, with its projects in Somalia, land purchases in Zimbabwe, or coup plans in the Seychelles, following the example of the European colonial rulers of his own Kingdom in Africa? Le Roux-connoisseur Ratliff is careful with such conclusions. But: "I know that he expressed in conversations with others, again and again, almost neo-colonial ideas that he wanted to oscillate, for example, in Somalia, to the big man who controls the territory and the laws of power."

it is Clear: His plans will not be able to implement le Roux probably. For a catalogue of offences, he was sentenced in mid-June before a New York court to 25 years in prison. Observers had expected a shorter sentence, as le Roux cooperates previously intensively with the authorities and in a number of court proceedings against some of its partners as a key witness had said. However, the competent judge was the only partially applicable and stated in the announcement of the sentence: "in Front of me a man who can take it in relation to his criminal acts with a James Bond villain is."

author: Jan Philipp Wilhelm

*The contribution "From the programmer to the crime boss: The incredible story of Paul le Roux," published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.

Deutsche Welle
Updated Date: 03 July 2020, 12:26

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