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Paul Le Roux, one of the world’s least known but most prodigious criminals, emerged from the shadows this week and testified for the first time about the myriad illegal schemes he committed in his 20-year career on the wrong side of the law.

In a spellbinding two-day turn as a prosecution witness, Mr. Le Roux confessed to an astonishing array of crimes. He said he had once sold missile technology to Iran, shipped guns from Indonesia, and trafficked methamphetamines out of North Korea. He calmly told a jury in New York that he had taken part in at least five murders. With a businesslike demeanor, he admitted not only to arming a 200-man militia in Somalia but also to hatching plans to use mercenaries to overthrow the government of the Seychelles.

When a prosecutor asked what he had smuggled over the years, Mr. Le Roux responded without affect: “Cash, chemicals, drugs and gold.” He said that he had also smuggled weapons and when asked to whom, he answered: “Rebels, warlords, criminals — essentially anyone who had money.”

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