Five Real-Life Criminal Masterminds
The movies are full of criminal masterminds that are ruthless killers, elusive thieves, and impossible to catch. Names like Keyser Söze, Professor Moriarty, and the Penguin all are well-known to us, but are they based on real-life criminals? Are there people actually capable of running an underworld syndicate, causing mayhem throughout the globe? In fact, there are people just like that and they have been scamming and killing their way through the world for centuries! Obviously, they aren't so blatant in their looks or crimes. You won't find any of these criminal masterminds running around with green hair or clown makeup, but that doesn't mean they weren't as diabolical as a comic book villain. Here are five such criminals that qualify for some of the most genius of criminal masterminds.
This Canadian criminal mastermind has been responsible for never-seen-before high tech crimes crossing 3 continents. His famous midnight burglaries are done without violence but devastating to financial institutions. In Austria, he parachuted into a castle and stole the jewels of the Austrian court - replacing them with a replica he bought in the castle's gift shop! His other crimes were just as daring. He started stealing milk at the age of six and everything took off from there. He bought a $100,000 home - in cash - at the age of 16. He used technology to rob banks across Europe, North America and Africa. He escaped the police time and time again, until 2007 when he was finally captured and sentenced to prison. Today, he is out of prison on good behavior and is starting a new career as a security consultant.
James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger is an organized crime figure from Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston, he was considered a Robin Hood-style criminal who created a protection racket targeting drug kingpins and those running illegal gambling operations. He is also responsible for at least nineteen murders. Part of his success in crime was due to the fact that the FBI used him as an informant since 1975. He was responsible for telling the Federal Government about the Italian American Patriarca crime family. After the media exposed the relationship with Bulger and the FBI, he was then hunted by the people he helped. For 16 years, Whitey Bulger was on the run and it wasn't until June 22, 2011 that he was caught in California with his long-time girlfriend. He was extradited back to Massachusetts.
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, better known as Carlos the Jackel, is a Venezuelan-born pro-Palestinian currently serving a life sentence in France for shooting to death two French secret agents and a Lebanese informer in 1975. For many years he was among the most wanted international fugitives for bombings and killings. He was able to escape capture for nearly 20 years, in which time he killed and injured an unknown amount of people. According to Sánchez, he never killed for money, but rather for his cause. He's currently spending the rest of his life in prison in France.
This American mastermind was called "the Napoleon of Crime" by Scotland Yard and is the real-life inspiration for Professor Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame. He started out his criminal career during the Civil War where he signed up for the Union Army several times and was collecting several soldier's salaries. He was also a pickpocket, robber, escape artist and fence. He had dozens of henchmen working for him on both sides of the Atlantic. His syndicate was found in London, Paris, and South Africa where he stole more than a $500,000 in uncut diamonds (worth about $16 million today). He also stole paintings, jewelry and other fine art. He was finally captured in Belgium in 1893 and spent four years in jail. He was released in 1897 and quickly resumed his robberies. He died in 1902.
This mastermind doesn't need any introduction. The leader of Al-Qaeda (known in English as "The Base") was an international terrorist who had a vendetta against America. He was responsible for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing, the 911 hijacking and terrorist attacks, and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets. From 2001-2011 bin Laden went into hiding in Afghanistan and Pakistan until he was eventually killed on May 2, 2011 by U.S. Navy SEALS in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. Shortly after his death, bin Laden's body was buried at sea. Al-Qaeda acknowledged his death on May 6, 2011, vowing to retaliate.