The incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Paul Le Roux—the creator of a frighteningly powerful Internet-enabled cartel who merged the ruthlessness of a drug lord with the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur
“A tour de force of shoe-leather reporting—undertaken, amid threats and menacing, at considerable personal risk.”—Los Angeles Times
It all started as an online prescription drug network, supplying hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of painkillers to American customers. It would not stop there. Before long, the business had turned into a sprawling multinational conglomerate engaged in almost every conceivable aspect of criminal mayhem. Yachts carrying $100 million in cocaine. Safe houses in Hong Kong filled with gold bars. Shipments of methamphetamine from North Korea. Weapons deals with Iran. Mercenary armies in Somalia. Teams of hit men in the Philippines. Encryption programs so advanced that the government could not break them.
The man behind it all, pulling the strings from a laptop in Manila, was Paul Calder Le Roux—a reclusive programmer turned criminal genius who could only exist in the networked world of the twenty-first century, and the kind of self-made crime boss that American law enforcement had never imagined.
For half a decade, DEA agents played a global game of cat-and-mouse with Le Roux as he left terror and chaos in his wake. Each time they came close, he would slip away. It would take relentless investigative work, and a shocking betrayal from within his organization, to catch him. And when he was finally caught, the story turned again, as Le Roux struck a deal to bring down his own organization and the people he had once employed.
Award-winning investigative journalist Evan Ratliff spent four years piecing together this intricate puzzle, chasing Le Roux’s empire and his shadowy henchmen around the world, conducting hundreds of interviews and uncovering thousands of documents. The result is a riveting, unprecedented account of a crime boss built by and for the digital age.
Praise for The Mastermind
“The Mastermind is true crime at its most stark and vivid depiction. Evan Ratliff’s work is well done from beginning to end, paralleling his investigative work with the work of the many federal agents developing the case against LeRoux.”—San Francisco Book Review (five stars)
“A wholly engrossing story that joins the worlds of El Chapo and Edward Snowden; both disturbing and memorable.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Tech journalist Evan Ratliff investigates the engrossing rise and fall of an unlikely criminal genius. Paul Le Roux had a talent for coding, creating popular encryption software before deciding to get rich on the other side of the law. After launching a less-than-legal online pharmacy, Le Roux moved on to dealing heroin, trading weapons, and murder for hire; his story is tied up with a bizarre cast of heroes and villains. In true New Journalism style, Ratliff risked his own safety to interview Le Roux’s henchmen and enemies. True crime doesn’t get much more sensational than this.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Good book. There were a million names to try to remember who they were was difficult but very interesting book. As a news fiend, Amazing I did not know about any of this.