Imagine a gangster, crime lord, or drug lord and you'll probably think of bloodshed, guns, fast money, and a luxurious lifestyle. Gangsters are known to make a lot of money, even though the ways that they do so lack legitimacy. From drug trafficking to different forms of financial scams, crime is extremely lucrative. Here are eight of the wealthiest criminals to have been in the business of crime.
Al Capone, the American gangster who ran the Chicago Mafia, made most of his money during prohibition. By 1929, Capone's income from the various aspects of his business included: $60 million from illegal alcohol, $25 million from gambling establishments, $10 million from vice, and another $10 million from various other rackets. It is claimed that Capone was employing over 600 gangsters to protect his business from rival gangs. Based on inflation, his empire would be worth about $1.3 billion today.
Pablo Escobar controlled the majority of the cocaine in Colombia and built his wealth by flooding the U.S. market with the drug. Forbes named Escobar one of the richest men in the world seven years in a row. By 1987, Escobar controlled an estimated 40% of the Medellin drug cartel's business. In 1989, based on public records, Forbes valued his net worth at $3 billion. Clearly, this was a very conservative estimate, considering he offered to pay off the national debt of Colombia, which stood at $10 billion at the time. According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, his net worth was $30 billion; all profits from his cocaine business.
Frank Lucas had a unique business model. He would procure heroin directly from opium king Khun Sa in Vietnam, hide it in coffins and then fly it from Vietnam to the United States. He was supposedly making $1 million a day at the peak of his business and had an estimated $52 million stashed away in the Cayman Islands.
Griselda Blanco, also known as the Black Widow, was a drug lord for Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel. Reports claim that she was worth $2 billion at her peak. She was best known for her ruthless contract killings. Ironically, she was shot by a contract killer in Medellin.
Dawood Ibrahim allegedly orchestrated the Mumbai bomb blasts in 1993. Starting off as a small-time hustler, he has now become a global player in the terror network. He is said to have close ties with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. He is also said to be worth about $6.7 billion.
Amado Carillo Fuentes
Fuentes is considered to be the second richest drug-related criminal, after Escobar. He was head of the Juárez Cartel of Mexico and became so after killing his boss. His nickname was "El Señor de Los Cielos" ("The Lord of the Skies") due to his large collection of aircraft, which included 22 Boeing 727 jets that he used to transport cocaine. He was estimated to be worth around $25 billion. He was found dead after a long plastic surgery to change his visage. The surgeons were also found dead inside steel canisters that were buried in concrete.
As an economics graduate, Semion Mogilevich has a diversified portfolio. His financial crimes include wire fraud, drug trafficking, mail fraud, prostitution, money laundering, contract killings, weapons trafficking, and securities fraud. He is considered to be the boss of all the bosses of all of the Russian mafias. His criminal empire is thought to be vast and far-reaching and he is considered to be one of the most dangerous men in the world. His net worth is estimated to be $10 billion.
José Figueroa Agosto
Puerto Rican drug lord José Figueroa Agosto is said to have amassed millions from his drug racketeering. He rose in the ranks of his criminal organization after killing a driver who allegedly stole a shipment of cocaine. After being caught and convicted for the murder, he was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison. However, he walked out of prison with a forged order of release. His organization was controlling 90% of the drug traffic from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico during its peak. CelebrityNetWorth.com estimates he was worth $100 million. He is currently serving a prison sentence of 30 years.
The Bottom Line
A big cost for many of these criminals was paying off government officials and law enforcement agents. However, they were still left with plenty of money to spare. In the end, many of these gangsters were jailed or killed.