When talking about the richest people in the world, we usually think of businessmen, politicians, movie producers, top actors, sportspersons, etc. However, we rarely talk about criminals, as their activities are not something that is acceptable to society.
Surely, crime is not something to be proud of, but still it has allowed various criminals to amass huge fortunes. This is usually through a range of illegal activities such as drugs smuggling, human trafficking, financial frauds, etc. For your knowledge, here’s a quick look at top five richest criminals of all time who were actually billionaires.
Carlos Lehder – The co-founder of the infamous Medellín Cartel, Carlos Enrique Lehder Rivas is a former drug lord of German-Colombian descent. He started his criminal journey by selling marijuana, stolen cars and later cocaine. He was one of the members who created the paramilitary group Muerte a Secuestradores (“MAS”) to fight against M-19 guerrilla movement. He had also launched the National Latin Movement, a neo-Nazi political party. Carlos spent 33 years in US prison and was released in 2020. He is estimated to have made USD 2.7 billion through his criminal activities.
Khun Sa – A Burmese drug lord, Khun Sa made his fortunes through opium cultivation and smuggling in the Golden Triangle region, located along the border of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. He dominated opium smuggling in the region from 1976 to 1996 and was often referred to as the ‘Opium King’. After his surrender in 1996, Khun Sa started working as a businessman in sectors such as construction and mining. He died in 2007 due to unknown causes. His wealth is estimated to be around USD 5 billion.
Viktor Bout – A Russian entrepreneur, Viktor Bout amassed his wealth primarily though arms trafficking. He utilized his air transport companies to illegally smuggle weapons from Eastern European countries to militias and terror organizations in Africa and Middle East. Bout was arrested in 2008 in Thailand and was extradited to the United States. He was sentenced to spend 25 years in Jail. He is currently being held at United States Penitentiary, Marion. Bout is estimated to have earned USD 6 billion through his criminal activities.
Amado Carrillo Fuentes – A Mexican drug lord, Amado Carrillo Fuentes started his criminal career in cocaine smuggling. He came to prominence after he assassinated Rafael Aguilar Guajardo, the boss of Juárez Cartel. Fuentes smuggled drugs through a large fleet of small jets, which gave him the name “Lord of the Skies”. Fuentes died in 1997 when he was undergoing plastic surgery to change his appearance. His estimated wealth was around USD 25 billion.
Pablo Escobar – Probably the most notorious criminal ever, Pablo Escobar was the founder of the Medellín Cartel. He was a narcoterrorist and a Colombian drug lord, who was referred to as the ‘King of Cocaine’. He had such clout that he had monopolized smuggling and sale of cocaine in the United States during 1980s and 1990s. He started his criminal career by selling fake lottery tickets and illegal cigarettes. He was also involved in car thefts. After running his smuggling operations for several years, Escobar was killed in 1993 in Colombia. He is considered as the richest criminal in history with a total net worth of around USD 30 billion.