ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The crimes he committed overseas make him sound like a movie villain: selling arms, drug trafficking, and brutal killings. But Paul Le Roux is now the defense's witness in a federal case against the very people who used to work for him.
The trial started in federal court in St. Paul on Monday.
The lead defendant in this under the radar courtroom drama, is Moran Oz, an Israeli foreign national.
But his lawyers say he's just a bit character - a logistics guy. They say the man who should be on trial is Paul Le Roux, described in court documents as a "billionaire global criminal mastermind," who created Rx Limited, an internet pharmacy that sold pain killers and muscle relaxers like Soma, Ultram, and Fioricet.
Doctors, like Elias Karkalas, would allegedly write the script based on a questionnaire, without ever seeing the patients.
Oz's lawyers will argue that he didn't know some of these drugs were controlled substances under the DEA, but his lawyers have a more compelling argument. They argue that Oz was afraid he'd be killed, by the defense's witness, Paul Le Roux.
Le Roux is a computer savant, who developed encryption software, but his career took a dark turn into drug trafficking, and soon he was shipping methamphetamine from North Korea, and setting up drug labs in Columbia and Liberia.
He tried to ship fertilizer for explosives through Hong Kong, sold assault weapons to militias in Somalia and is even suspected of selling a missile guidance system to Iran. But his bread and butter, was always Rx Limited. He ran it from Hong Kong and the Philippines, but set up a call center in Israel, that was operated by Moran Oz.
Keegan Hamilton, an editor for Vice News, has followed Le Roux's exploits all over the globe.
“In this case it looks like they use the boss to set up the underlings, which could be troubling for a number of reason,” said Hamilton.
Le Roux was captured in Liberia five years ago, and became a snitch.
First, he set up his enforcer and hitman, Joseph "Rambo" hunter, who was busted in Thailand for trying to kill a DEA agent.
Oz says Rambo once took him out on a boat in Brazil, tossed him overboard, and began firing rounds at him in shark infested waters, until Le Roux was satisfied that Oz wasn't cheating him.
When Le Roux testified at a pre-trial in St. Paul a year ago, he coldly admitted to killing six people.
Oz's defense attorney Joe Freidberg argues it's as if Microsoft was a criminal organization and Bill Gates became a government informant, so the feds could bust the guys on the loading dock - a clever metaphor, and up to a jury to decide, if true.
“On one hand he's helping the government catch murderers, on the other hand he was the guy ordering some of those murders,” said Hamilton. “It's a murky area.”
With Le Roux's help, the DEA has arrested 11 people overseas and extradited them back to the U.S.
In exchange for his help, Le Roux is expected to get a reduced sentence for his crimes, which include conspiracy to import drugs, computer hacking, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.
Le Roux, who was born in Zimbabwe, is currently in protective custody, whereabouts unknown, and is expected to testify in St. Paul sometime in March.
The entire trial is expected to last eight weeks.