Paul Calder Le Roux’s arrest in 2012 got a fair amount of newspaper coverage. “One of the world’s most successful criminals,” announced The Australian. “This is a very, very bad guy,” intoned a US law enforcement agent, who compared Le Roux’s international career—allegedly involving drug trafficking and arms running — with that of infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout. “He’s Viktor Bout on steroids,” the law enforcement agent told the New York Times.
Le Roux was arrested in Liberia shortly after a yacht which he had rented ran aground on a South Seas Island. On board was about a million dollars in cocaine and a dead Slovakian man. Le Roux was ostensibly arrested on drug charges, although no indictments or formal charges can be found on him now.
But is Paul Le Roux really an arch villain? Or is he, perhaps, an arch operative?
Who is Paul Le Roux?
The picture that emerges is of a fabulously rich and shadowy individual whose drug and paramilitary activities have spanned four continents. Le Roux was born in Africa — reportedly in South Rhodesia and was subsequently adopted by a South African couple. He also holds Australian citizenship.
Le Roux, who is in his early forties, apparently began his career working as an encryption specialist for the US government, according to confidential sources. He is known to have developed “TrueCrypt,” which may be a virtually unhackable encryption system. At some point — somewhere around 2004-2005 — Le Roux appears to have struck out on his own. Or maybe not.
He has been named as the financial backer of a 220 strong Somali militia, which was reportedly protecting territory in which Le Roux and his associates were thought to be growing greenhouse opium. According to a UN report, Le Roux spent over $3 million in Somalia, including over $150,000 on arms.
In 2009, one of the companies linked to Le Roux, La Plata Trading, was embroiled in a gun-running scandal. When Philippines Customs agents boarded the ship for inspection, they found that the commercial cargo was, in fact, Israeli assault rifles valued at over $2 million dollars. The captain of the ship asked for protection in return for his testimony, but whatever protection he was granted was not enough.
The British-born captain was killed outside Manila by assassins on a motorcycle. The hit came just months after his lawyer asked for him to be placed in witness protection.
Online Pill Pushing
However, it was Le Roux’s involvement in a seemingly innocuous online pharmaceutical company that appeared to be providing him the sums to fund his international activities.
According to a former employee, SCSM was based in Israel and providing customer service for online prescription medicine sales for a company named RX Limited. Le Roux took over this venture around 2004. According to the former employee, who spoke under conditions of anonymity, the online pharmaceutical company was pulling in between $8 and $25 million dollars a week.
At one point, the source noticed that the prescriptions were not being reviewed by a physician, as mandated by law. He reports becoming concerned but was told “not to worry.” He states that Paul Le Roux was running the company from a remote location, through emails as “Manager” and also through phone contact.
However, the pharmaceutical company may have been doing quite a bit more than filling online prescriptions. Shell companies were being created, bank accounts and credit accounts were being set up using unrecognized names, and millions of dollars were allegedly being laundered internationally, which may have served to fund Paul Le Roux’s other activities, the source has stated.
A number of the Israelis who were working for RX Limited have been indicted by the US government. According to the indictment, eleven individuals have been criminally charged for their involvement with RX Limited, for crimes ranging from conspiracy to violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to Introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The individuals charged range from office workers to pharmacists and physicians.
According to the former employee, the company in Israel closed its doors in late 2012, as Paul Le Roux seemed to have vanished. He was, in fact, reportedly arrested in the fall of that year. In the summer of 2014, Le Roux reportedly surfaced, and began to email and call several of his former Israeli employees, stating he owed them back wages. Le Roux offered to pay them the balance owed if they could come to Rumania to pick up the money. Two of the employees — Moran Oz and Omer Bezalel — agreed to meet Le Roux in Rumania. Upon arrival, they were promptly arrested by Rumanian police and then extradited to the US, where they were placed into federal prison in Minnesota, pending trial.
Oz is up on 90 charges associated with his activities with RX Limited and reportedly faces decades in prison. Bezalel, who was charged with about fifty counts, skipped bail and is at large.
Another individual, Joe Hunter, is being held in New York after being set up and entrapped by Paul Le Roux. Hunter, a former US military sniper, had worked as Le Roux’s bodyguard. According to news reports, Le Roux, in custody at the time, agreed to set up a sting wherein a couple of undercover federal agents approached Hunter with a murder for hire scheme, with the targets being a DEA agent and the captain of that yacht which had run aground in the South Seas.
As reported in the New York Times, Le Roux reportedly sent Hunter an email asking for his assistance with a “priority job.” Le Roux suggested to Hunter that the captain had turned states’ evidence and should be silenced. Taped video and audio recordings have Hunter agreeing to the terms of the $800,000 job, and reportedly asking for certain equipment to accomplish the murders.
Hunter is awaiting trial in New York.
Le Roux was also involved with Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli spy, political consultant and author (“Profits of War: Inside the Secret US-Israeli Arms Network”). According to DOJ documents, Ben-Menashe’s Canadian firm, Dickens and Madson, was providing lobbying services to Le Roux. Ben- Menashe told this reporter that these services only involved a Zimbabwe land deal, where Le Roux was attempting to lease land back from the government to sub lease to white farmers. The land had previously been seized by the Zimbabwe government in a land reform plan.
According to reports, Le Roux transferred around $12 million to Ben-Menashe between March of 2007 and February of 2008.
Menashe denies that there was anything inappropriate about the money transfers. Speaking from his firm, Traeger and Logistics in Montreal, Quebec, Menashe stated that the payments went both for lobbying and also for the Zimbabwe land.
Menashe also stated that Le Roux asked him to lobby for him in Vanuatu, where Menashe said that Le Roux owned a logging company and wanted help getting the trees out of Vanuatu. “It was all public and all the monies were reported,” states Menashe.
The Israeli former employee of RX Limited disputes this. “Menashe was working with Le Roux to set up shell corporations and fake credit card processing accounts,” he states. On being confronted with this allegation, Menashe began to chuckle, stating “Le Roux had enough shell corporations without my help!”
Where is Paul Le Roux?
According to the Bureau of Prisons spokesperson, Le Roux was put into federal prison in Brooklyn in September of 2012 and released in September of 2013. He is thought to be in federal custody but his whereabouts are unknown. Linda Marks, the DEA prosecutor in the RX Limited case, disputes the accuracy of the information provided by the Bureau of Prisons. “The information on the site about him is not accurate,” she stated flatly in an interview this past week.
According to the New York Times, Le Roux has been “turned” and is now informing on others — hence the arrest of Hunter and the Israeli office workers. Certain questions emerge as to this scenario, however. Generally, individuals who turn informant are offered deals — such as reduced sentences — in order to serve up bigger fish. Neither Hunter nor the Israeli office workers meet this criterion, however. They are only lower level employees of the Big Fish — Paul Le Roux.
Another possibility is that those who could reasonably inform on Le Roux’s activities are being systematically arrested. According to Ben-Menashe, “Le Roux had close ties to US intelligence. That is how we were able to close the Zimbabwe land deal like we did.”
In this context, the RX Limited case in US District court in Minnesota makes a certain amount of sense. A number of those indicted in the RX Limited case had access to records showing the extent of Le Roux’s international activities. By putting them away, Le Roux — and whoever is now protecting him — could breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Paul Le Roux is not charged in any capacity in the Rx Limited case. Moran Oz’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, is requesting access to Le Roux for questioning.
Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.