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Internet Drug Lord / Missing Indigenous Women

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Date Host George Knapp
Guests Evan Ratliff, - Rain, David Sickey

In the first half, journalist Evan Ratliff joined George Knapp to discuss the criminal empire of Paul Le Roux, who, as a computer programmer, started an online prescription drug network, supplying hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of painkillers to American customers. Le Roux's initial scheme involved doctors and pharmacists who didn't realize they were doing anything illegal. The DEA began looking at the network when some 50 million pills were sold per year. Le Roux was raking in millions and employed several thousand people working in call centers to staff the operation, Ratliff recounted. He started converting his cash into gold bars, and then hired security contractors to protect his investments, which also included illicit drugs like cocaine.

After that, he began using his security team to settle disputes with people that owed him money, and even to kill or eliminate rivals, or associates he thought were stealing from him. According to Ratliff's sources, Le Roux was paying for women to bear his children so that his offspring could serve as workers, whose loyalty would be unquestioned. After relocating to Brazil, he had a child with a local woman to avoid extradition, Ratliff added. Le Roux owned houses all over Africa and Asia, which were kept on the ready as hideouts or to send his henchmen to execute a mission. Eventually, the DEA caught up with Le Roux and arrested him, Ratliff reported. In an unusual circumstance, as the kingpin of his operation, he cut a deal to bring down his own organization and the people who'd worked under him.

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In the latter half, Rain, the executive director of the Global Indigenous Council (hour 3), and David Sickey, Vice-Chairman of the Coushatta Tribe, (hour 4) brought to light the continuing crisis of missing or murdered Native women, as revealed in the documentary, "Somebody's Daughter" (view trailer). Native American women are the most assaulted, raped, and trafficked of any group in North America, and are ten times more likely to be the victim of homicide, Rain cited. One of the reasons that law enforcement has often failed in these cases is due to an "inter-jurisdictional maze," Rain explained. Groups such as tribal law enforcement, federal law enforcement, FBI, and county and state police do not work cooperatively together.

Another issue, he noted, is when an indigenous person goes missing, they are categorized as "other" (in terms of race), and this prevents accurate data-keeping. Rain detailed how certain port cities and locations with heavy drug distribution were associated with more trafficking of women and girls who are moved onto container ships. One solution proposed is the "Bad Man Act" which would empower tribal courts to initiate the removal of non-tribal members associated with gangs and organized crime. "It's absolutely imperative," said Sickey, "that we all join forces...to continue to raise awareness...and speak for the voiceless." In addition to the new documentary, a billboard campaign has also brought attention to the issue.

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