The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal

Random. Mar. 2019. 480p. notes. index. ISBN 9780399590412. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399590429. CRIME
In 2006, Paul Le Roux, a onetime computer programmer, founded RX Limited, an online prescription distribution service that he grew into a massive illegal drug empire that made him millions annually. Ratliff (former editor in chief, Atavist Magazine; cohost, Longform podcast) presents a chilling work of dark web intrigue that shows how a corrupt global empire could be created by one person with skills, resources, and a lack of scruples. Ratliff spent four years researching and conducting hundreds of interviews, including those with DEA agents who trailed Le Roux as well as the henchmen and mercenaries who carried out his orders, including murdering seven people he no longer trusted. The author excels at describing the characters and court trials that ultimately brought down Le Roux. Once cornered, Le Roux flipped and identified cronies who did his bidding, having been promised he would not be charged for the murders. Currently, Le Roux remains in custody on charges of importing methamphetamines and selling weapons to Iran.
VERDICT This gripping example of investigative reporting will find large audiences among those fascinated by the growing genre of cybercrime.

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