That he was still producing 200kilos out of thin air was interesting. Operations are still going somewhere with possibly millions moving. Either his that are still running autonomously or others with him just having 3rd parties that can pull a huge transaction at once.
His OPSEC sucks. I mean, I'm amazed that he didn't get caught earlier in some unrelated investigation using his real name and emails on all kinds of shady stuff. Many I know are too paranoid to do that thinking someone would connect dots. He did it and nobody connected dots until piles of high risk crimes added up with benefit of easy tracing. Even police said a little more obfuscation would've thrown them. This means we've overestimated the police's ability to connect dots on suspicious items. Just don't know how much.
Spamhaus says a quarter of stuff came from this company. I read much in INFOSEC but never heard them connect it to something like this. Another "under the radar" aspect that's amazing. Plus, owning a registrar for spam cover is excellent example of subversion at protocol level.
$200-400 million a year could buy tons of INFOSEC and OPSEC. He could've rebranded under a new company to move his name further from the transactions. He could've potentially paid his Israelis to straight up break in and steal/alter records. He could've dropped a few mil strategically in Brazil on key people to spot legal and financial risks along with strats people use to dodge or buy cops. Before he went there. Far as Liberian deal, he should've sent one of his well-paid, experienced people to negotiate that. At his level, he should never leave protection or associate himself with something that's tainted. And when busted, getting immunity to flip is a rational option in his situation but admitting to murders was just stupid.
How about "An arrogant way of living?" Haha.
Basically I don't think he could've ever accomplished what he did if he wasn't arrogant and wreckless to his core.
If law were derived from universal morals (heh...) then that might be accurate. But due to the relatively arbitrariness of whether or not someone is a criminal, especially with respect to the great variety of countries in which virtually all of HN would be criminals for freely speaking about various topics, I think it's a bit presumption and mean to call those who "turn to" crime as broken.
Additionally, I would posit that many criminals are not "turning to" crime so much as not "turning away." By that, I mean that crime is not sought out, but rather the criminality of their actions is ignored, much like I presume the mindset is of the majority of jaywalkers.
> Furthermore it's the EXTREMELY broken ones that become the crime lords etc. and those people often have massive flaws in their character such as the arrogance you described.
Once again, I take issue with the use of broken to describe someone's actions simply on the basis that a group of people disagree with them. "Extremely broken" implies some serious psychological issues, which are not at all requisite for running an illegal enterprise. I would posit that many of the people involved in controlling bootleg DVD sales or knockoff brand name goods are in fact very normal and psychologically uninteresting.
I do agree with the assumption of arrogance, as much like politicians, the drive to control on a grand scale typically requires a decent amount of ego, it's incredibly difficult for an individual to exert control of an empire with humility, although I think it's possible, it's just very unlikely outside of a very peaceful organization, which his was most certainly not. Violent groups of people are difficult to control in a non-Machiavellian manner (I would think impossible, but I haven't given it much thought) and I sincerely disbelieve one could rule in such a manner without a decent ego.
1. It's legal to get the drug if a single doctor agrees you need it, you can afford to pay them, and you can afford to pay for the drug.
2. It's illegal to get the drug if Le Roux's doctors do it with their methods at probably lower prices.
So, just being poor means you can't get medicine. That's illegal. But immoral? The law itself sounds immoral here. Further, the law relegates the decision to any human with authorization to prescribe drugs. That makes it quite arbitrary given their range of opinions and actions. So, there's no connection between the law and morality here except perhaps an immoral transfer of money from companies that benefit from the situation to middlemen that pass it to lawmakers. Sounds... like Le Roux's network a little bit, eh? ;)
The fact that the government later made one of the drugs being sold a controlled substance gives credence to such a theory.
Whether or not that says anything about the morality of law, I'll leave up to you.
Let's not pretend that there is logic behind the controlling of substances by government and law enforcement.
Let's take it further. The drug you need is a cancer treatment that costs $100,000. The drug itself was paid for with a mix of tax dollars and private R&D that resulted in a patent. The patent at this point has paid off its private R&D plus plenty of profit. A Chinese supplier can make the same ingredients with a Le Roux-like company selling it to you. It's illegal to acquire that as the law says you must die or make that drug company richer.
Is morality and the law in alignment when someone is being murdered for someone else to make extra money? Or for people to do time for trying to save their life with a clone?
Well, there's a pretty big difference between "I shouldn't get arrested for smoking pot" and "I shouldn't get arrested for murdering rival pot dealers."
Maybe western law is mostly derived from a sensible universal moralism with certain exceptions. That doesn't mean that all criminality is rational or that the OP's opinion that most criminals are irrational is wrong. For every Robin Hood there's hundreds of thousands of street thugs. I think you're overpleading the edge cases here. Many studies have shown your average criminal to be a fairly messed up individual: mental illness, strong personality faults, poor reasoning skills, poor executive control, poor discipline, etc.
So, I don't think there's an average criminal given the variety of crimes, levels of harm, and criminals themselves. However, the average criminal on drugs in my area is a working class person who poses no threat to society but smokes weed on occasion. There's also a number of addicts who are similarly not a threat but will receive long sentences. There's also thugs who range from your description to well-educated people who say "screw being someone's b for minimum wage when I can be my own boss for $50k slinging this stuff!" On thugs, similar predatory behavior as many business owners except their type of harm is allowed and affects more people. Even when it's indirect murder.
What's law and what's ethical isn't the same. The law can enforce evil, stop good, and do arbitrary things hard to judge.
It's actually easy to show that this isn't possible, because the amount of western law is much larger than a single person could ever hold in his head. This could not be the case for "universal" moralism, which is by definition shared by everyone.
> Many studies have shown your average criminal to be a fairly messed up individual: mental illness, strong personality faults, poor reasoning skills, poor executive control, poor discipline, etc.
I suspect these are studies of caught criminals. They can't apply to uncaught criminals, and they specifically don't apply to Paul le Roux (caught or not) without adjustment for the type of crime being committed. He filled a managerial role; "most criminals" in those studies (and most criminals generally) don't.
it's the EXTREMELY broken ones that become the crime lords etc. and those people often have massive flaws in their character such as the arrogance you described.
If you examine crime lords and their activities and morality, then compare them with world leaders from before 1800, then you will find that the behavior they exhibit is fairly common in the repertoire of history.
Also note that our present culture has been tremendously influenced by the governments they ran. That's why it takes so long to "wake up from history."
Not sure whether arrogance is something that helps people achieve more, or if it is a byproduct of their achievements.
Yeah, it is amazing how much his arrogance and pride seemed to play into his behavior. He could have exited this whole situation in Brazil [Retiring] a wealthy man and would have been largely immune since they didn't have the ability to get their hands on him.
> His OPSEC sucks. I mean, I'm amazed that he didn't get caught earlier in some unrelated investigation using his real name and emails on all kinds of shady stuff. Many I know are too paranoid to do that thinking someone would connect dots. He did it and nobody connected dots until piles of high risk crimes added up with benefit of easy tracing. Even police said a little more obfuscation would've thrown them. This means we've overestimated the police's ability to connect dots on suspicious items. Just don't know how much.
I found that amazing as well but I think it has to do with the fact he was basically a black market profiteer dealing in low level stuff.
> Le Roux couldn’t have known that this new venture had made him a narco-terrorist in the eyes of the U.S. government. Until he had fled for Brazil, his case had been the province of the DOJ’s Consumer Protection Division, the federal prosecutors that handle pill-mill cases, and the Minnesota investigation team anchored by Kim Brill.
The Consumer Protection Division likely doesn't have the resources to break even a criminal with essentially no OPSEC based on this.
My guess is if he stayed out of hard drugs, arms, etc. he might have also stayed completely safe because it sounds like they simply couldn't handle him until it got kicked to the FBI/DEA/etc.
All really good points. I found myself having to re-read the part where he was actually brought in by the authorities, thinking to myself how hard it would have to be to actually trace Le Roux the man. I wasn't fully expecting him to be captured until the next installment, actually.
It just seems amazing for someone who had been security-minded to let arrogance and big risks, mainly the high risk crimes, bring him down. In a way, this part of the story reminds me of the recently deceased Howard Marks who went bigger and bigger until he went down.
Even so, stories like these make me wonder how many drugs/weapons smugglers, etc. do turn in for that "early retirement" as millionaires. Must be quite a few.
That's basically Ratliff's claim, too. He would've gotten away with it.
It is basically a public admission that the Government is completely ineffective with anything vaguely resembling a competent criminal. It makes me question if we are allocating law enforcement resources correctly.
Edit due to rate limit:
> I know that sounds far-fetched. Our government employs many smart, capable people in FBI and SEC that could certainly stop it.
I'm honestly not sure it is as far-fetched as it sounds. Resources appear to be allocated to "narcotics" and "terrorist" buckets very heavily with little regard to the impact on less glamorous investigations. My concern is this allocation may have opened very large holes around threats that are unlikely to create headlines.
Smart, capable people can only do so much if they lack the resources to investigate people with serious and competent OpSec.
> I'm just... paranoid... that the Le Roux case means bigger things might be going on that would do way more damage than addicts getting drugs reliably.
Honestly, I don't think you are paranoid. I think if something like that happened the current investigatory capability of the various agencies appears to be unable to do much if such a plot was competently executed.
That said, I think it is unlikely anyone would attempt to execute an action on such a scale because he clearly had to flee to another country.
I think legal means are more effective on a risk-adjusted basis in terms of financial costs. The critical slice of people whose opinions can be shifted between candidates seem vulnerable to advertising and rhetoric. Truth remains malleable enough that sufficient funds expended can create it during the election cycle and that is the only real control that matters.
> You'd think that with this level of incompetence a few banks could straight up foreclose on millions of mortgages cooked up Enron style. Hell, they might one-up Paul Le Roux by buying or installing a Treasury head. At this rate, you'd think they'd cut a deal for immunity while keeping lots of money due to less recklessness. They might even use the complexity of their operations to negotiate for more money to prevent fall-out coming back on everyone else. Might cost $1-6 trillion dollars in such a scenario.
Honestly, I'm pretty sure our system has largely legalized bribery via campaign contributions and the fact they can keep them on retirement.
> Turns out that despite strict Federal Election Commission rules, Bayh and other exiting elected officials do have ways to keep unspent political contributions.
So I'm not sure I'm the best person to talk to about this. I'd just reinforce your paranoia since I think you are largely correct on the political side.
On the commercial side, I think that is honestly why we have so many problems like LIBOR fixing that go unnoticed:
> Simply put, then, it seems the misreporting of Libor rates may have been common practice since at least 1991. Although the difference between the reported rate and the actual rate might seem small, the total amount of money involved is material, given that Libor rates affect contracts worth hundreds of trillions. Also important is what such misreporting says about the culture.
I think this misallocation has led to alot of the recent banking scandals, honestly, and its disturbing to see further evidence in a secret-now-public criminal case that is unrelated.
"It is basically a public admission that the Government is completely ineffective with anything vaguely resembling a competent criminal. It makes me question if we are allocating law enforcement resources correctly."
...that. You'd think that with this level of incompetence a few banks could straight up foreclose on millions of mortgages cooked up Enron style. Hell, they might one-up Paul Le Roux by buying or installing a Treasury head. At this rate, you'd think they'd cut a deal for immunity while keeping lots of money due to less recklessness. They might even use the complexity of their operations to negotiate for more money to prevent fall-out coming back on everyone else. Might cost $1-6 trillion dollars in such a scenario.
I know that sounds far-fetched. Our government employs many smart, capable people in FBI and SEC that could certainly stop it. I'm just... paranoid... that the Le Roux case means bigger things might be going on that would do way more damage than addicts getting drugs reliably.
This guy knew how to scale! Started/bought a domain registrar to generate the so many spammy sites needed to sell all those drugs.
Another unrelated point. He found himself in a career crisis in 2002, and also discovered he was adopted, which according to this series (and some Australian media articles) disturbed him. And there are two distinct career paths before and after it.
Although, I am filled with disgust at his actions, esp. he got people killed. But it also stuns me the amount of "progress" he did in a span of less than a decade from 2002 (assuming by 2011 he was done with it, sort of).
What miraculous luck that such a thing would happen, purely of his own free will.
No, the shortened URL can be followed.
i probably shouldn't engage in arguing pointless minutiae like this. i will refrain after this one.
Fetching the headers would also be a good way to check the MIME type (for automatic warnings like [pdf] or [video]), as well as checking the title.
They also have partnerships to do branded shortening. Bitly will happily generate shortened URLs for other domains, eg http://amzn.to/
As part of their content scrubbing, I suggest HN re-shortens URLs. Another +1 use case that bitly or other service could provide.
^^ which redirects to:
(In case some don't know, just add "+" to the end of a bitly link to see the report.)
This does seem to be a common thread with highly skilled and intelligent criminals. Their pride convinces them they can keep going when the truth is it is time to pull the ripcord years before they got caught and walk away with all the wealth a person would ever need to live happily ever after.
...find it hard to believe the carrying capacity of an average taxi would support this.
See my response to a comment on the same level as your comment for my attempt to look at the numbers.
From the article:
acquired $30 million in one-kilogram gold bars from Metalor Technologies
Also, 342 one-kilo bars at $1000 USD an once appears to be worth $1.2 million, not $2 million.
Possible math/logic is flawed, or I'm missing something, but often found people say numbers that if hashed out don't add up.
Just pointing it out, maybe the author will add some clarification; since I assume the did fact checking based on their mentioning that the did on sources, evidence, etc.
This document catalogs historical statements about the physical characteristics of the Book of Mormon: https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/JBMRS/article/download...
Summary: even if it were a solid block of pure gold, it would only weigh ~200 lbs. However, there's no strong historical evidence that it was pure gold, only golden in color. A plausible golden-colored alloy would end up at around ~60 lbs, which is consistent with historical claims about its weight.
See the sidebar on page 21 for details.
My goal isn't to "get you"; I just don't want incorrect information passed off as truth. You clearly think the Book of Mormon is bogus. That's fine, but please use better researched arguments against it.
Anyway, I'm going to drop this thread here, since a post about Paul Le Roux if the wrong place to have this discussion.
It's still a great deal of mass, and I definitely wouldn't put it in the trunk of a cab, but it sounds at least almost plausible, especially if the taxi is a van or SUV.
Thank you for the great work.
quite poor opsec skills obviously not as tech savy as they painted him
As a reader, it makes me no-less interested in the content.
Drives me nuts.
I have high hopes for Quora (one of the YC portfolio companies) because they are trying to make accessible this sort of locked-up knowledge.
EDIT: Forgot to say I agree with you on the forbidden knowledge in organized crime being interesting. I've seen some myself and it's wild stuff. Atavist needs to do one on Berlusconi in Italy. ;)
Stackoverflow: Alexa Rank 52
Both have high-quality answers to numerous topics. One is both free and ahead of the other. Results speak for themselves, eh?
The title for this submission should really have done a better job at explaining this is a series.
I would pay for more of this!!! [And or for future investigative journalism of this incredible scope]
It's got me curious as to whether Satoshi was really motivated by being anti-bailout or whether he created it for his own operations just as Paul allegedly created TrueCrypt for his.
Your article says the Russian sites mostly sold ED pills, which makes more sense to me, but it seems like Le Roux wasn't in that racket.
Maybe I'm just not up to speed on prescription meds, but I would've guessed people would go for recognized things like Vicodin etc. over random muscle relaxers
Altgeld Garden Drug Co., Chicago – pharmacy license (054-003512) revoked and Erskine A. Cartwright III, Chicago – pharmacist license (051-033091) suspended for 30 days followed by probation for two years after information came to the Department's attention that
from on or about the Fall of 2006 continuing to on or about the summer of 2007, the pharmacy dispensed a substantial quantity of prescription drugs, including controlled substances, pursuant to orders received electronically issued by physicians for patients who are alleged to have ordered the drugs via the internet. Additionally, the Department was not notified 30 days in advance of the pharmacy's closing. 
Street Address: 912 e 131st st, EVERGREEN PARK, Il 60805, US
Website Address: RXINFODEPOT.COM^^VIAGRACHEAP.COM
Company Email: email@example.com 
Now a thrift store: st vincent de paul... Le Roux :-P
email above is associated with C-21 Dabbs & Associates 
"Mr. Erskine A. Cartwright entered into rest on Sunday, February 23, 2014" 
The other registered location is 974 East 133rd St 
re c21 dabbs president - Karen Capriotti, Richton Park – real estate managing broker license (471-015345) automatically revoked for violating the terms of a non-disciplinary order issued by the Department on April 8, 2013. 
Erskine A. Cartwright, contributor of excellence to the Xavier University 
disciplined in 2011
Probation 01/01/2012 12/31/2013 after information came to Department's attention indicating that from on or about the Fall of 2006 and continuing until on or about the Summer of 2007, the pharmacy dispensed a substantial quantity of prescription drugs, including controlled substances, p ursuant to orders received electronically issued by physiicans for patients who are alleged to have ordered the drugs via the internet; the Department was not notified 30 days in advance of the pharmacy's closing.
Suspension 12/01/2011 12/31/2011 after information came to Department's attention indicating that from on or about the Fall of 2006 and continuing until on or about the Summer of 2007, the pharmacy dispensed a substantial quantity of prescription drugs, including controlled substances, p ursuant to orders received electronically issued by physiicans for patients who are alleged to have ordered the drugs via the internet; the Department was not notified 30 days in advance of the pharmacy's closing. 
This just keeps on going.. He was married to Maggie Bell Cheatham Cartwright, mayor of the city of Keysville: http://augustafuneralnotices.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/...