Here was an American ex-soldier, assisted by other Americans, acting as part of a rogue military-spy operation on behalf of an international criminal figure who, prior to December 2014, the public had never heard of. “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, was by this time a famous figure worldwide. The notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, arrested in a sting in Thailand and convicted in 2011, had been the subject of magazine articles, and a Nicolas Cage movie was based loosely on his exploits. But judging from the brief flurry of stories about Le Roux and the fragmented contents of the case files, he seemed to have a criminal appetite more voracious than either of them. In one Times article, a DEA agent called Le Roux “Viktor Bout on steroids.”
Paul Le Roux, photographed at a Brazilian airport.
A surveillance photo of Le Roux, taken in an airport in Rio de Janeiro, surfaced from a Brazilian newspaper; it was purportedly the only image of him ever published. It’s a grainy shot of a doughy white man in a royal blue polo, with what appears to be tousled bleach-blond or silver hair and a darker, trim beard. He wears a slightly amused expression and, with the photo blown up, almost looks as if he’s winking at someone.