Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
He Got Greedy: How the U.S. Government Hunted Encryption Programmer Paul Le Roux (atavist.com)
352 points by katiabachko on Apr 14, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments



Another great, fun write-up by Ratliff. I'm surprised by by a number of things which I'll comment on in a disorganized way. :) One is how often Israeli commandos turn up in these organizations. In parallel, there's their well-known effectiveness plus the risk of Mossad connections that can burn you. Mexican cartels, Colombian, Paul Le Roux... they all buy them up. Cheap, too. I'd like to hear their logic on that.

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.


I dunno. My personal opinion is that humans to some extent are innately good, and that it's the broken ones who turn to crime. 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.

Basically I don't think he could've ever accomplished what he did if he wasn't arrogant and wreckless to his core.


> ...it's the broken ones who turn to crime.

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.


Good points. I'll add that the majority of his funds came from illegal pharmacy that was selling drugs people could get from local doctors but might be turned down. To put that into perspective:

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? ;)


They mentioned in the article how they wrote it up as providing prescripted medication without a client-doctor relationship. The likelihood of someone buying these drugs for the purposes of abuse are likely much greater than some poor person looking for their brain medication.

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.


Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug and Methamphetamine is schedule 2. Alcohol and Nicotine are legal.

Let's not pretend that there is logic behind the controlling of substances by government and law enforcement.


There is logic but is certainly not uniformly applied!


Probably. Doesn't invalidate my claim. There's all kinds of people who go to the doctor to get drugs like these because it feels better that way. They just have to pay more and get it from specific people for it to be legal. Their motives, the drugs themselves... all the same.

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?


>If law were derived from universal morals (heh...) then that might be accurate.

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.


Alternatively, the law makes a distinction between types of harmful activity that are legal and types that are illegal with interesting results. The kind of very damaging activity smart, disciplined people do that ruins lives is often legal. These are [Wall] street thugs. Then, there's other types of harm the lesser people can pull off that are illegal. There's also stuff they do that doesn't harm other people but is severely illegal.

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.


> Maybe western law is mostly derived from a sensible universal moralism with certain exceptions.

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.


Is there a meta-analysis that corroborates your last claim?


My personal opinion is that humans to some extent are innately good

I agree.

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."


Why do you think world leaders before 1800 are significanly different than the ones since?


I don't, really. There isn't a sudden demarcation. It's more of a gradual shift. If you go back in time before then, you're predating the enlightenment. Democratic revolutions will be following the example of the British Colonies after that point.


I guess I'm asking: how do you know that world leaders before about 1800 are significantly more sociopathic than now?


Interesting point. There's a lot careful criminals with big empires. It's a prerequisite for most of them. So, I disagree on wreckless being general case. Arrogant is probably right.


High-achieving people in any environment tend to be arrogant, whether it is crime, politics, business, religion, sports, ...

Not sure whether arrogance is something that helps people achieve more, or if it is a byproduct of their achievements.


> How about "An arrogant way of living?" Haha.

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.


>"He did it and nobody connected dots until piles of high risk crimes added up with benefit of easy tracing"

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.


To be fair to Le Roux, he switched to the methamphetamine/cocaine trade after his holdings in Hong Kong were seized. It's possible I misinterpreted the article, but it appeared to me that he was trying to recover his previous wealth. It seems like a psychologically normal thing for a multimillionaire who lost millions (but is still wildly wealthy) to attempt to restore that wealth.


Sure, but he went in person. If he was smart, he wouldnt do that for unknown partners that might be cops.


"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."

That's basically Ratliff's claim, too. He would've gotten away with it.


Correct. I'm just restating it because I find it amazing given what that implies for grey market and white collar crime.

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.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/campaign-finance-senators-hou...

> 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:

http://archive.is/vMZV5

> 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.


Oh, I know you saw it. Was just saying he corroborates your opinion. Especially...

"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.


The funny thing is I was messing with you by citing the exact circumstances of the 2008 financial crisis that's still reported on periodically. I was thinking you'd catch that. Good to know that you've been seeing signs in other places, too, though. ;)


I thought it was obvious enough I didn't feel the need to repeat it given how repetitive I was with the OP. ;)


Good, good. I was getting worried there. :)


"In the early days of RX Limited, employees purchased individual web domains at public sellers like GoDaddy. Later, RX Limited spawned its own domain-selling company, ABSystems—the equivalent of opening a printing press for web addresses. But instead of selling those addresses to others, ABSystems generated them by the thousands, virtually for free, exclusively for RX Limited."

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).


I real-life Breaking Bad story.


Would make a hell of a film, they'd inevitably screw up the technical accuracy on the computer side unless we could get the Mr Robot director on-board.


Halfway to the airport, however, Le Roux switched tactics, said Stouch. “He just essentially said he was no longer going to resist and that he would cooperate with our commands.” According to the DEA, Le Roux waived his Miranda rights somewhere over the Atlantic and agreed to tell them everything he knew.

What miraculous luck that such a thing would happen, purely of his own free will.


Sure, but I would imagine that in such a situation it would be quite rational to choose to coöperate.


Please explain.


If they know what you're up to and you don't coöperate you still end up behind bars or executed. If you do coöperate, they might let you off the hook somewhat.


Understand, but no, even law enforcement, military, etc. are trained to never say anything; this isn't just to protect the greater good either, don't do it.


Pretty interesting interpretation of free will - and for that matter, luck.


Pretty sure parent was sarcastic (or something).


(plausible) I know, but I might deny it.


hacker news is not cool with link shorteners. most link shorteners (bit.ly, et al) are banned here. chances are good that the only reason this particular shortener isn't banned yet is because dang is not aware of it. should be replaced with this article's true url:

https://mastermind.atavist.com/he-got-greedy


Is it really a link-shortener or just atavist providing a short perma-link? 'atav.st' == atavist.com?


it doesn't make any difference, if you think about why hacker news bans link shorteners: there should be one, and ONLY one, canonical URL for every article. if you allow two or more, then there is essentially no way to detect duplicate submissions. so i can pretty much guarantee that it is just a matter of time until atav.st is banned here.


> essentially no way to detect duplicate submissions

No, the shortened URL can be followed.


... and once it is followed, it is the true URL that should be displayed, because it contains more useful information for the end user, like the true domain where the article resides, instead of the alphabet soup you get with link shorteners. which, again, is why link shorteners are banned here.

i probably shouldn't engage in arguing pointless minutiae like this. i will refrain after this one.


I think it's good to discuss HN social norms when it's appropriate. Your comment added to the discussion.


I agree.


True, if anything that should be a feature of HN. To try and follow a 403 and use that instead. The only examples I can think of in which this wouldn't be desired are articles you have to login to access, but that could be a short blacklist or whitelist. Of course once we're inspecting URLs for 403s, I can see a slippery slope to indexing and comparing content of submissions...


304, not 403. And actually, only a 301 Permanent Redirect should be followed and used instead. bit.ly and URL shorteners it powers, which includes atav.st, use 301 Permanent Redirect.

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.


Of course 304, ungh. The reason 304 gets used more often than 301 even for essentially permanent redirects is because of browser caching... If you allow editing a redirect, then you might want to change future requests. Of course, many URL shorteners don't allow edits. As far as I know, some browsers don't cache-invalidate 301s. Haven't investigated recently, maybe there's an HTTP2 solution for this, or proper use of headers, or something.


I'm pretty sure bitly dedupes.

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.


Agree about dups, but there's no reason why HN could not use bitly and open source some access to the analytics data.


Here's a direct link to the bitly report for the link:

http://atav.st/1SNUadd+

^^ which redirects to:

https://bitly.com/1SNUadd+

(In case some don't know, just add "+" to the end of a bitly link to see the report.)


This is a very interesting story


Author of the original story here, would be very interested in discussing further... evan [at] atavist [dot] net


Good story. You missed a few things though The assassination my Michael lontoc, manager of red white and blue arms a Makati gun company owned by PLR. The crash of a cargo plane in Manila about the same time as capture of mv captain ufuk Billions of pesos worth of properties in the Philippines and Thailand including an island and a couple of beach properties as transit points Employing 24 prostitutes flown in from the south and housing them in different apartments in the Makati area Local purchase of high powered guns amuninition,c4 and detonators And So much more


Edited to protect parent's privacy


I assume the original comment you wrote was edited, because this reply makes no sense otherwise.


Thanks for your thoughts, much appreciated.


> “He got greedy,” Jody continued. “He probably could have closed up shop in 2006 or 2007, been a rich millionaire, and never have been investigated at all.”

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.


It's the common thread among those that get caught. What's to say how many there are that do retire as millionaires before getting caught?


And those who don't retire and don't get caught too. Tbh, looking at the how long he lasted heading a global organization and his exploits, it seems not too unlikely that others can just pull it off.


Exactly


Another absolutely fantastic article on this same guy:

https://mastermind.atavist.com/he-always-had-a-dark-side


they're all part of the same series of articles.


Weight of 342 bars of gold would be 4255-kg (9381-lb)...

...find it hard to believe the carrying capacity of an average taxi would support this.


If you image search "gold bar" you'll find a lot of images other than the stereotypical large "Good Delivery" (400 troy oz ~12.4 kilos, Wikipedia has more details on the Good Delivery specifications). Apparently 1000g bars ("Kilobars") are common for trading, but there are images of "Credit Suisse" 100g bars that turn up as well.


Right, though given 342 "bars" are mentioned, market price of gold is known, and that in sum the bars were worth $2 million USD - it's possible to try to get a feel for if the weight and worth of gold "adds" up in logically.

See my response to a comment on the same level as your comment for my attempt to look at the numbers.


In Hong Kong 1 kilo bars are very popular.

From the article:

acquired $30 million in one-kilogram gold bars from Metalor Technologies


I have one-kilo as being 35.27-ounces - and an ounce of gold costing roughly $1000 USD. If true, 30 million worth of gold in one-kilo bars would be 850 bars; meaning a lot appear to be missing.

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.


Gold price is variable, it got very close to $2,000 an ounce in 2011.


Could be 342 bars of different weights... you can buy a 1 gram bar for example... possibly can buy bars of >1kg too. I know I would do it this way to make later trading easier.


It "could" be a sign of factually conflicts, a lack of fact checking, etc.

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.


He also had other assets like gems.


Plus them storing them in bags and carrying them so much. I can't recall if the gold bars can come in more convenient sizes and weights vs standard ones that are heavy. This was also a counterpoint in arguments against Book of Mormon discovery given calculations showed it was over 1,000lbs. Truly a miracle to get that sucker from point A to point B.


> arguments against Book of Mormon discovery given calculations showed it was over 1,000lbs

[citation needed]

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.


Oops, you got me: another memory failure. Thanks for the catch. Yeah, a guy with a limp outrunning or fighting attackers carrying a book that weighs 200lbs. The 60lbs part is his and apologists "alloy" BS that's rejected by the book itself in Mosiah 8:9 where it says the plates are pure gold. So, it looks like a stretch unless the book is wrong.


[citation needed], again. Mosiah 8:9 is about a different set of plates that part of the Book of Mormon was abridged from: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ether#Provenance

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 possible the original source was bad on that one. I'll drop it for now until I revisit the evidence. Or dfop it entirely as it wasn't a critical claim to begin with.


Elsewhere the article described him buying up "1-kilogram" bars. I don't know where you would get such a thing (I'm not in the gold market), but this does make more sense with the figure of $20M dollars (although it still works out to gold at $1800/troy oz.).

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.


So excited to red this installment. So far, this series has been fantastic. I had no idea who Le Roux was three weeks ago, let alone his shadowy background and connection to tools I have used in the past.

Thank you for the great work.


"... Then the arms ship MV Captain Ufuk was intercepted off the coast, Sol told me, the DEA “knew that Le Roux was behind that shipment right away. Because La Plata Trading and Red White and Blue Arms”—companies tied to the shipment—“connected back to ABSystems, and the websites were registered to him. ...”*

quite poor opsec skills obviously not as tech savy as they painted him


YES my lunch break is going to rule, reading this. i love this series so far!


This has been a fantastic series of articles! I absolutely love this. Evan Ratliff is simply a superb writer in long form journalism.


I'm assuming that this submission's headline differs from the original ("He Got Greedy") to make it more useful for HN readers...but I wish it were how other reputable news sites, such as The Washington Post, constructed their linkbaity headlines: `the-short-answer: the linkbait phrase`

As a reader, it makes me no-less interested in the content.


If your story's so weak that disclosing basic who / what / where information in the headline kills its value, you don't have a story.

Drives me nuts.

https://plus.google.com/104092656004159577193/posts/7juQbQ5B...


Among the most closely-guarded troves of knowledge in the world are those pertaining to organized crime. This stuff is so dramatic and interesting because it is sort of "forbidden knowledge".

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.


Well, to continue reading, you'll have to log in, however.


I can understand how some are uncomfortable with that, but it's not a big deterrent for me (and I suspect most users). There's really some good stuff there.


Unless it's been changed recently, just add ?share=1 to the end of a Quora link.


The Q/A website that aggravates me the most by locking up knowledge is a YC company? Oh jeez... Well, I'll just avoid that topic when it comes up here. :)

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. ;)


I mean, it served Experts Exchange so well. Just look at how popular that site is these days.


Experts Exchange: Alexa Rank 5,634

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?


Experts Exchange (or ExpertSexChange - poor URL choice) had their lunch eaten by Stack Overflow. I'd argue the login requirement wasn't as much of a problem as their payment requirement...


Exactly. Free, high-quality stuff vs paid, high-quality stuff. There's a reason BSD, Linux, Apache, and so on powered more of the Internet than good, commercial alternatives. :)


Where does Quora come into play?


Is this the same Paul Le Roux who wrote the original software that TrueCrypt was based on?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E4M


Indeed! It was explained in the 3rd article of this series: https://mastermind.atavist.com/he-always-had-a-dark-side


Yes. This is the fifth installment of the series investigating his life. The other episodes mention how his code inspired TrueCrypt.

The title for this submission should really have done a better job at explaining this is a series.



Does anyone know if this is the last installment or how many there will be?


There'll be seven in total. So, two more.


Yesssss i have been waiting hard for the next part of the story. Ut's totally riveting.

I would pay for more of this!!! [And or for future investigative journalism of this incredible scope]


I am fascinated by TruCrypt and Bitcoin -- they had a very big impact on the world but their authors are completely unknown. Are there any other instances of things like that?


Did you read the previous articles? Allegedly Paul Le Roux created TrueCrypt (because a domain name is linked to him or something like that). Even if he didn't create TrueCrypt, he definitely created the pre-forked version of it (which he was open about).

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.


I'm collecting examples of situations like that. If you'd like to discuss in depth, please send me an email - it's in my profile.


Something which confuses me about the pharma sites is that most of the pills being sold seem pretty obscure, yet they clearly managed to earn a fortune



"Approximately 100 pharmacies across the country were using that same account number. All of them were predominantly shipping the same three drugs: Fioricet, Ultram, and Soma"

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


I wonder why he was so willing to talk.


So that he couldn't be prosecuted for the other crimes he committed. Once he admitted to this main crime they knew about, they said they wouldn't charge him with further crimes.


I love this series thus far. So interesting.


That story would make a class movie.


When is the movie lol


Altgeld Garden Drug Co was in the middle of an interesting location... One of two registered... Altgeld Gardens is one of "Chicago Housing Authority’s largest housing development."

---

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. [1]

----

Street Address: 912 e 131st st, EVERGREEN PARK, Il 60805, US Website Address: RXINFODEPOT.COM^^VIAGRACHEAP.COM Company Email: gamble8@msn.com [2]

Now a thrift store: st vincent de paul... Le Roux :-P

---

email above is associated with C-21 Dabbs & Associates [3]

maps: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.607956,-87.8476405,3a,50.4y,...

----

"Mr. Erskine A. Cartwright entered into rest on Sunday, February 23, 2014" [4]

---

The other registered location is 974 East 133rd St [5]

---

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. [6]

---

Erskine A. Cartwright, contributor of excellence to the Xavier University [7]

---

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. [8]

---

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/...

---

1 https://www.idfpr.com/Forms/DISCPLN/1112_dis.pdf

2 http://www.subiz.us/biz-il-58953.html

3 http://illinois.cevo.us/company/c-21-dabbs-s-associates.html

4 http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/augustachronicle/obituary.a...

5 http://www.manta.com/c/mm7dlxl/altgeld-gardens-drug-co

6 https://www.idfpr.com/forms/discpln/2013_09dis.pdf

7 http://www.xula.edu/mediarelations/XUGold_Summer2011.pdf

8 https://www.idfpr.com


One of the things that annoys me about the series is we read only anout his botched stuff. None of the successes. He does not look like that big of a fish.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: