Meth, Murder, and Pirates: The Coder Who Became A Crime Boss

How a brilliant self-made software programmer from South Africa single-handedly built an online startup that became one of the largest individual contributors to America’s burgeoning painkiller epidemic. In his world, everything was for sale. Pure methamphetamine manufactured in North Korea. Yachts built to outrun coast guards. Police protection and judges’ favor. Crates of military-grade weapons. Private jets full of gold. Missile-guidance systems. Unbreakable encryption. African militias. Explosives. Kidnapping. Torture. Murder. It's a world that lurks just outside of our everyday perception, in the dark corners of the internet we never visit, the quiet ports where ships slip in by night, the back room of the clinic down the street.

The Mastermind

Paul Le Roux could have been Mark Zuckerberg. Instead he became a 21st century John Gotti, running a massive criminal empire from his computer until he became an asset of the United States government.

A 7-part serialized story, written by Longform Podcast co-host Evan Ratliff.

  1. Episode 1: An Arrogant Way of Killing

  2. Episode 2: I'm Your Boss Now

  3. Episode 3: He Always Had a Dark Side

  4. Episode 4: Absolute Fear

  5. Episode 5: He Got Greedy

  6. Episode 6: Eyes Everywhere

  7. Episode 7: The Next Big Deal

Vanish

“I shared my plans with no one, not my girlfriend, not my parents, not my closest friends. Nobody knew the route I was taking out of town, where I was going, or my new name. If I got caught, it would be by my own mistakes.” A writer’s attempt to disappear for a month with a $5,000 bounty on his head.

Shoot!

Most military experts agree that robots, not people, will inevitably do the fighting in ground wars. In Tennessee, a high-end gunsmith is already there. The story of Jerry Baber and his robot army.

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