Meth, Murder, and Pirates: The Coder Who Became A Crime Boss

How a brilliant self-made software programmer from South Africa single-handedly built an online startup that became one of the largest individual contributors to America’s burgeoning painkiller epidemic. In his world, everything was for sale. Pure methamphetamine manufactured in North Korea. Yachts built to outrun coast guards. Police protection and judges’ favor. Crates of military-grade weapons. Private jets full of gold. Missile-guidance systems. Unbreakable encryption. African militias. Explosives. Kidnapping. Torture. Murder. It's a world that lurks just outside of our everyday perception, in the dark corners of the internet we never visit, the quiet ports where ships slip in by night, the back room of the clinic down the street.

Going To Extremes

They listened to the radio until there was nothing more to do. Philip went into the house and retrieved a container of Kraft vanilla pudding, which he’d mixed with all the drugs he could find in the house—Valium, Klonopin, Percocet, and so on. He opened the passenger-­side door and knelt beside Becky. He held a spoon, and she guided it to her mouth. When Becky had eaten all the pudding, he got back into the driver’s seat and swallowed a handful of pills. Philip asked her how the pudding tasted. “Like freedom,” she said. As they lost consciousness, the winter chill seeped into their clothes and skin.