Paul Le Roux was born on Christmas Eve, 1972, in Bulawayo, the second-largest city in what was referred to as Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe). His birth mother gave him up for adoption and his official name was "UNKNOWN". He moved to South Africa when he was 12. Paul went on to become a cryptographic programmer who built a global drug and arms dealing empire and transformed himself into one of the most prolific criminal cartel bosses. After his capture in 2012, he became an informant to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which circumstantially makes him a prime suspect to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the mythical creator of Bitcoin. U.S. law enforcement arrested Le Roux on September 26, 2012 for narcotics charges, ordering the assassination of at least seven people, and operating a criminal cartel. Despite being a corroborating witness for the FBI, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail due to charges in over a dozen other countries.

Evidence in the court documents claim that Le Roux worked on significant cryptography projects in C++, as did Satoshi. Recently, court documents from a case against Craig Wright in Florida discovered that Le Roux often went by an alias "Solotshi" in inner circles. Wright claimed in legal filings to have interacted briefly with Le Roux, although Wright claims he is the real Satoshi. Le Roux published a short manifesto years before the Bitcoin White Paper that echoed some of Bitcoin's founding principles—to build a financial world without financial institutions. Le Roux also created E4M, an open-source disk encryption software program for Windows in 1999, and is also the suspected creator of TrueCrypt. A forum post discussing Bitcoin was once posted from the Netherlands, where Le Roux was located at the time. In a letter addressed to a New York federal judge in October, 2020, La Roux makes a bizarre and confusing plea to be released from prison so he can "start a business selling and hosting Bitcoin miners," and describes Bitcoin as "a new type of digital currency that lacks a central issuer," perhaps to throw off conspiracy theorists (like me).

But perhaps the strongest evidence linking Le Roux to Satoshi is the fact that Satoshi's Bitcoin has gone completely untouched for over a decade. With a stash of nearly 1 million bitcoin, Satoshi would have been worth about $20 billion when bitcoin was trading at all-time highs in December 2017, putting him on the global rich list next to Elon Musk, John Mars, and Michael Dell. If Le Roux built Bitcoin for the purposes of money laundering, and he was captured by law enforcement nearly three years after mining its first block, this would explain why Bitcoin's creator has never tried to cash-in on his earnings.

So how do you run an international drug cartel, conduct multiple weapons deals, build an online prescription drug business, run gold and timber extraction operations across six countries in Africa, launder millions of dollars through Hong Kong, buy off law enforcement in the Philippines, traffic methamphetamine out of North Korea, consult a team of engineers building missile guidance systems and drones for drug delivery for Iran, order the assassination of seven people, play undercover informant for the DEA, and still have time to architect, write, program, beta test prototypes, write extensively in public forums, author an academic-quality white paper, and mine over 1 million bitcoin... in under four years? One possible answer came in May 2020 when John McAfee made the bold claim that a group of 11 people created Bitcoin together, and Craig Wright was one of them, but he hasn't divulged any more details citing fears over his life. This corroborates with Wright claim that he had a few interactions with Le Roux.

To learn more, you can watch this exciting documentary on the astonishing criminal enterprise of Le Roux, created by Channel News Asia (CNA), or buy a discounted Amazon Gift Card from Redeeem and order The Mastermind: Drugs, Empire, Murder, Betrayal. Author Evan Ratlif examines the incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Le Roux, who he describes as "the creator of a frighteningly powerful internet-enabled cartel who had the ruthlessness of a drug lord and the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur". Other (weaker) conspiracy theories point to software developers Nick Szabo, Hal Finney, and Dorian Nakamoto to be the real Satoshi.