Undeniable power. Unbelievable stories. Unlikely origins. Kingpins follows the rise and fall of rulers of the underworld. Every Friday, we examine the leaders of organized crime rings, and how money and power corrupted and changed their communities. What makes a kingpin or queenpin, and how can we stop them? Kingpins is part of the Parcast Network, and a production of Cutler Media. New episodes release on Fridays.
With a violent childhood and mantra of “smuggling, bribery and murder,” witness the beginnings of Pablo Escobar’s cocaine empire in Medellín in the 1970s, and how he expanded it exponentially by joining forces with other Colombian drug traffickers.
By 2013, the DEA, FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security were all after Ross Ulbricht, aka "The Dread Pirate Roberts." His drug website, The Silk Road, trafficked millions worth of drugs every week. So far, Ulbricht remained anonymous, thanks to Tor and the cloak of the Dark Web. Little did he know, the users he thought were his friends were federal agents in disguise.
In 2011, Ross Ulbricht created The Silk Road, aka "The Amazon of Drugs." Hosted on the dark web and financed by Bitcoin, it was an anonymous marketplace where anyone could buy or sell anything without leaving a trace. Drugs, guns, hacking software, human organs -- the free market utopia quickly made Ulbricht a millionaire. And made him a top target for the DEA.Sponsors!Bombas - Get 20% off your first purchase at Bombas.com/KINGPINS.
After being able to hide on the lamb for years, Howard Marks was finally caught and forced to answer for his crimes. However, a convincing lie about his supposed involvement with MI6 ensured Marks’ release and allowed him to continue smuggling cannabis well into the 1980s.
In our new show SPORTS CRIMINALS, we break down the crimes and careers of the most controversial sports figures in history. From kidnapping and murder to widespread corruption scandals, we give you the play by play of what lurks in the shadows of the sports world. New episodes come out every Thursday! In this clip we introduce the incredible rise and precipitous fall of Oscar Pistorius, who captured the attention of the world by participating in the 2012 Olympic games as a double-leg amputee. To finish this episode, subscribe to SPORTS CRIMINALS on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts!
During the 1970s, Howard Marks became one of the biggest cannabis smugglers in Europe. Through a series of networks, which included contacts in the IRA and the Mafia, he was able to bring in upwards of 30 tons of cannabis into the UK and the United States. But after years of anonymity, a single bust in Las Vegas would put him on the DEA’s radar.
Mafia life came with plenty of rules, and Anthony Casso loved that. He was a criminal, but an honorable criminal, and his dedication to the Mafia lifestyle took him to the top of the Lucchese family hierarchy. In the mid 1990s, as he faced threats from inside and outside the family, the pressure got to him, and he started to make mistakes. He was taking his violence too far.
Anthony Casso was born in Mafia territory in South Brooklyn, and the money-making, wily intelligence, and violence that the "the life" demanded came naturally to him. It was no surprise that he started to climb the ranks of the Lucchese Family as they hit the height of their power in the 1980s. Parcasters - Watergate forever changed the way Americans look at the presidency, but could there be more to the story? Find out today on Conspiracy Theories! Subscribe to Conspiracy Theories on Spotify to listen now!
By the 1970s, the Black Tuna Gang, led by Robert Platshorn, was running the marijuana game out of Miami. But, as internal strife grew out of control and the feds closed in around them, Platshorn's life was headed for a downfall. Sponsors!Bombas - Visit Bombas.com/KINGPINS and get 20% off your first purchase.
Crime never takes a day off, and neither do we. In our new podcast, TODAY IN TRUE CRIME, every day, we flip back the calendar and examine a true crime event from the same date years ago.In this clip, we look back at August 19th, 1970, when John Norman Collins was convicted of the murder of 21-year-old Karen Sue Beineman. Subscribe to TODAY IN TRUE CRIME for a new story every day!
In the late 1960s, Robert Platshorn was one of the most successful independent salespeople in the country. When a colleague offers to bring him into the marijuana business, Bobby just couldn't resist. Soon, he's off to Columbia to start his own smuggling outfit - which would become known to the FBI as "The Black Tuna gang."Parcasters - When Darwin published his thesis on human evolution, it was highly contentious. When John Scopes introduced the theory into his lesson plan, criminal charges were brought against him. Learn about this historic trial on our other podcast NOT GUILTY.
In 1984, Queenpin Jemeker Thompson lost her husband Daff, when he was shot to death while playing dice. She would successfully run her empire without him, but it would all come crashing down, thanks in part, to her own son.Sponsors!Native - For $20 off a suitcase, visit AwayTravel.com/KING and use promo code KING during checkout!
In 1977, when she was only 15 years old, Jemeker Thompson entered the world of drug-dealing by dipping her toes into the weed business. And with the help of her boyfriend, Daff, she would expand into the cocaine business, and become one of the foremost narcotics distributors in Los Angeles at the time.Parcasters - This week on The Dark Side Of, we move on from Hollywood and start our exploration of the music industry. Our first episode details the myth of the 27 Club, you won't want to miss it! Subscribe to The Dark Side Of on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
From counterfeit goods, to fake love interests, and even major financial fraud, you will find it all in our new show. In this Parcast Original, we examine the swindlers behind the scam, and the victims manipulated by their deceit. In CON ARTISTS you will learn about the art of the hustle, and the ways you can spot a con. In this clip, we explore the massive Ponzi scheme orchestrated by fraudster Bernie Madoff. Subscribe to CON ARTISTS on Spotify or wherever you listen to Parcast to listen to the rest of this episode!
The Brotherhood of Eternal Love reached new heights after the proliferation of their potent LSD tablet "Orange Sunshine." They spread their psychedelic gospel far and wide, even attracting infamous drug advocate Timothy Leary to their ranks. But all of their success would bring on unwanted attention from none other than the federal government.Parcasters - Don’t miss all of our special Summer of ‘69 episodes by subscribing to Parcast Presents: Summer of ‘69, on Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Just before the Summer of Love, 22-year-old John Griggs discovered LSD and had an epiphany – he would serve as the Hippie Messiah and guide the world to psychedelic revolution. John set out to the beaches of Southern California where he founded a psychedelic cult and international drug ring, while blazing the trail for the recreational use of psychedelics at the height of the hippie era.Parcasters - Don’t miss all of our special Summer of ‘69 episodes by subscribing to Parcast Presents: Summer of ‘69, on Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts!
1926, Al Capone has risen to become the sole leader of The Chicago Outfit, and one of the most feared men in the country. As his enemies fall one by one, finally the United States Government gets involved. Parcasters - This week on Conspiracy Theories, we wrap up our exploration of the mysterious Denver International Airport. You won’t want to miss these shocking episodes! Available now on Spotify or wherever you listen to Parcast Originals!
As Prohibition and unsustainable economic growth spread across America in the early 1920s, a new wave of organized crime rose to meet the growing demand for illegal liquor. Among the many young immigrants enticed by a life of crime was Alphonse Gabriel Capone, a smart and violent Italian-American who would soon become the most infamous gangster of all time.Sponsors!Pair of Thieves - Get 20% off your first order at PairOfThieves.com/KING.
In the dawn of the 1970s, Frank Matthews was at the top of his game. But growing attention from the FBI causes Frank to consider whether he should quit while he's still ahead. Or maybe, he could just... vanish. Parcasters - When conservation advocate Joy Adamson turned up dead, the authorities initially suspected one of her lions. Little did they know one of her disgruntled employees would be much more dangerous! Listen to her story on Assassinations, available now on Spotify or wherever you get your Parcast Originals!
Throughout the late 1960s, Frank Matthews rose from petty thievery in Durham, North Carolina to become one of the premier narcotics traffickers in New York City. But his mysterious life of luxury caught the attention of his neighbor - NYPD Detective Joe Kowalski.Parcasters - This week on The Dark Side Of we dig into the trial of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and the media frenzy that followed. You might think you know the story, but the truth is much darker! Available now on Spotify or wherever you listen to Parcast!
By 1983, Rick Ross had risen to become the reigning kingpin of South Central LA. But when made a deal with a new supplier named Danilo Blandon, he ended up getting into much more than he’d bargained for.Parcasters - Catch up on our most recent episode of Crimes of Passion, where we explore the Sutton-Taylor feud, a back and forth battle between former Confederate soldiers, and the lawmen tasked with bringing them to justice. Available now on Spotify, or wherever you listen to Parcast podcasts!
In the 1970s, cocaine was seen as a “rich man’s drug” - reserved for the wealthy elites in the Hollywood Hills. That is, until 1979, when 19-year-old Rick Ross found a way to market it to the masses in South Central LA. Parcasters - For more information on this don't miss our Conspiracy Theories episode on the Crack Epidemic! Available now at parcast.com/conspiracy
As an endless sequence of cartel leaders rose and fell, El Azul, miraculously managed to keep himself alive and free. After nearly five decades in the drug trade, a string of indictments in the 2000s threatened to end his streak of luck.Parcasters - Colleen Stan was locked away by her captor for 7 years, her perseverance to live is unmatched. How did she get through the ordeal? Find out today on Hostage at parcast.com/hostage
From the late 1960s to the 2010s, the Mexican narcotics trade evolved from a Wild West of independent traffickers into a network of massive, highly-organized cartels. Only one man successfully weathered all five decades: Juan José Esparragoza Moreno. Sponsors!Pair of Thieves - Get 20% off your first order at PairOfThieves.com/KING.
After instigating a war with the Italian Mafia while high on a cocktail of psychedelic drugs in the early 2000s, former stockbroker Shaun Attwood realized he was in over his head. Shaun's resulting incarceration led him to a mission of education and advocacy.Parcasters - On Espionage this week we cover one of the longest embedded spies in U.S. history, Larry Wu-tai Chin, who sent documents to the Chinese government for over 30 years! Available now at parcast.com/espionage
In 1996, this British-born stockbroker quit his day job trading stocks and switched his focus to trading ecstasy. Within a year, Shaun Attwood controlled the majority of the ecstasy market in the American Southwest. But his business sense and English charm couldn't protect him after a run-in with his enterprising rival. Parcasters - Just like criminal masterminds, emperors hold tremendous power and control. In Ancient Rome, the only way to get the seat was to take it! Check out Assassinations to hear our most recent episode on Caligula and his violent end, on Spotify or anywhere you listen to Parcast! (parcast.com/assassinations)
Under his leadership, the Juarez Cartel became one of the most powerful narcotics enterprises in Mexico - but it also caught unwanted attention from authorities on both sides of the border. In 1997, the caution and creativity that launched the "Lord of the Skies" to success would also prove to be Amado Carillo Fuentes’ downfall.Sponsors!Pair of Thieves - Get 20% off your first order when you go to PairOfThieves.com/KING.
The nephew of one of Mexico's first major drug kingpins, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, learned the narcotics trade from the best and brightest. By the time he took control in Ciudad Juarez in the late '80s, he knew exactly what to do - and what not to do - to ensure his reign didn't come to a premature end.Parcasters - Criminal organizations are built on trust, but occasionally a mole will infiltrate the group. How do spies achieve this? Find out on Espionage! A new episode released today at parcast.com/espionage
After a hit job gone awry in 1932, 23-year-old Vincent Coll found himself in the crosshairs of the New York Police - as well as several of the most powerful organized crime outfits. Instead of accepting an early retirement, he kept pushing his luck and stirring up trouble, even as nearly every crime group in the city wanted him dead.Parcasters - Check out our new show today! We cover the most intriguing exoneration and acquittal cases in Not Guilty, now available at parcast.com/notguilty
When mobsters wanted a particularly ruthless job done in the 1920s and 30s, their go-to man was Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. Vincent would kidnap or kill anyone, from Hell's Angels leader "Big Frenchy" DeMange to Broadway singer Rudy Vallee. Parcasters - Did you catch Unexplained Mysteries yesterday? You won’t want to miss the case of the disappearing genius, Physicist Ettore Majorana, a supposed time traveler! Available now at parcast.com/unexplained
As Griselda's closest ranks of family and associates turn into a list of enemies and rivals, she flees from Miami to California to escape the heat. But even as the law started to close in on Griselda's operation in the mid-'80s, she wasn't going to go down without a fight.Parcasters - You won’t want to miss our new show, Espionage! Subscribe today for the most incredible spy stories you have ever heard! Available now at parcast.com/espionage
After a DEA investigation forced Griselda Blanco to flee New York City in 1975, she returned to her hometown of Medellin, Colombia to run her cocaine operation from the shadows. There, she met a protege who would soon become her deadliest rival: Pablo Escobar.Parcasters - The US government needed a way to turn public opinion in favor of conflict with Cuba during the Cold War. You know about the Bay of Pigs incident, but do you know about Operation Northwoods? Check it out now: parcast.com/conspiracy
The woman who would become one of Colombia's first major cocaine traffickers in the 1970s got her start as a criminal at age 11, kidnapping neighborhood children for ransom. This brand of ruthlessness and violence would become Griselda Blanco’s signature whenever she was crossed, even by her own husbands.Parcasters - Check out our new show, Survival! In our first episode we covered Shin Dong-hyuk’s escape from a North Korean internment camp. Available now at parcast.com/survival
By the time this 70-year-old Afghan kingpin stood trial in 2012, Haji Bagcho had been moving drugs for nearly five decades and responsible for twenty percent of the entire world's heroin supply. He didn't climb to the top on his own: he had some help from both the CIA and the Taliban.Parcasters - Thank you so much for listening! Check out Extraterrestrial if you’re looking for a another perspective on things at parcast.com/extraterrestrial
Even while he was building his nationwide drug empire, Demetrius Flenory never gave up on his childhood dream of becoming a hip-hop artist and producer. After a shooting at an Atlanta nightclub in 2003, the law started closing in and his chances of going legit started slipping away.Parcasters - All caught up with Kingpins? Try out our new show, Crimes of Passion! Check it out: parcast.com/passion
Growing up in poverty in Detroit, brothers Demetrius and Terry Flenory started dealing drugs to keep the family afloat before they were even old enough to drive. In 1989, Demetrius moved to Atlanta to expand his cocaine empire nationwide. He became a fixture of the city's nightlife scene, catching the attention of rappers like Young Jeezy...and DEA agents like Jack Harvey.Parcasters - To learn about an iconic event in American history, check out our our new episode on John McCain on HOSTAGE, wherever you get your shows. Listen now at parcast.com/hostage
As Colombia descended into chaos in the late 1980s, the Orejuela Brothers knew there was only one way to save the Cali Cartel from crumbling: get rid of Pablo Escobar for good. They didn't anticipate that by bringing down their rival, they'd only be setting the stage for their own inevitable fall.
The Brothers infiltrated the streets of New York City and built the infrastructure for one of the United States’ largest cocaine rings in the 80s. Never getting caught by a local or federal enforcement officer, the Orejuela brothers thought they could continue their operation unscathed. However, more was happening behind-the-scenes than they ever knew. Parcasters - Brotherly love brought the Cali Cartel to the heights of the drug running world, learn more about criminal siblings with our new show CRIMES OF PASSION. Listen now at parcast.com/passion
At the height of their power, Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela were bringing in one million dollars a week by smuggling cocaine into New York City. In the 1980s, a war broke out between the Cali Cartel and the Medellin Cartel. Officials struggled to track down the notorious kingpins.Parcasters - Be sure to check out our newest podcast Extraterrestrial! It’s out of this world! Listen at parcast.com/extraterrestrial
The two brothers that made up half of the Cali Cartel in Colombia, Gilberto and Miguel Orejuela became the leaders of one of the world’s most successful cocaine cartels in the 1970s. Most of the cocaine in New York City at the time was delivered by this massive operation that stretched from Bolivia to Peru. Parcasters - Be sure to check out Parcast’s newest show Extraterrestrial! Listen at parcast.com/extraterrestrial
One of the most powerful men in Chicago, Big Jim’s businesses ranged from brothels and opium dens to upscale dining. His political influence in the early 1900s helped shape the way American organized crime operated for decades to come. Nobody could take down Big Jim… but that doesn’t mean they didn’t try. Parcasters - Take a trip from Chicago to New Hampshire and learn about the alien abduction of Barney and Betty Hill on our new show Extraterrestrial. Listen at parcast.com/extraterrestrial.
He had come from nothing, and yet had risen to become Chicago’s most feared and respected crime lord. Everybody knew Diamond Jim, and not just for his jewelry and that flashy three-piece suit he always wore. By 1914, Jim Colosimo controlled more than a 100 businesses in Chicago’s Red Light District. Parcasters - Once you’re finished with “Diamond Jim” you’ll want to learn about fate of Chicago native Alan Berg on this week’s episode of Assassinations. Listen now at parcast.com/assassinations
Imprisoned in 1973 for drug crimes, he continued to oversee Chicago’s Gangster Disciples from his prison cell. Hoover used his time in prison to educate himself on politics and history. The Pontiac Prison Library provided a place for him to formulate a new plan: take the Gangster Disciples from street gang to political powerhouse.Parcasters - Hear Hercules as you’ve never heard him before on this week’s episode of Mythology!
The leader of one of Chicago's most dangerous gangs in the 1970s, Larry Hoover was only 23 when he was sent to a maximum-security prison. The police thought they’d taken one of Chicago’s most dangerous gang leaders out of the game, but they’d only given him a new territory to reign, and 3,200 new inmates to recruit.Parcast News - Be sure to check out Parcast’s first fictional crime show MIND’S EYE at Parcast.com/MindsEye!
This powerful Kingpin was responsible for the drug epidemic that gave D.C. the reputation as the “murder capital” of the U.S. Edmond’s infamous trial in 1989, required the jury to sit behind bulletproof glass for their protection.
He was the youngest drug lord in D.C. history and began selling drugs at the ripe old age of 9-years-old. By the mid-1980s, Rayful Edmond III controlled 60 percent of the drugs that came into the city and was making $300 million annually. But this would only be the beginning of his legendary reign. Sponsors!Audible - Listen to “Evil Has A Name” only on Audible. Listen now at Audible.com/EvilKingpins.
After her husband's murder in 1986, Thelma stepped in and took over a nationwide drug operation, moving cocaine and heroin from LA to Philadelphia. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. Wright enjoyed the lavish lifestyle the drug trade afforded, but would soon learn the consequences of engaging with the criminal underworld.Parcast Network - Check out our new show Mythology at https://www.parcast.com/mythology.
For years, this queenpin watched from the shadows while her husband built a drug empire. After tragedy struck in 1986, Thelma was thrust into the center of the action navigating a bi-coastal drug trade between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Parcast - Check out our brand new podcast Mythology at https://www.parcast.com/mythology
He rose from nothing to become the drug-smuggling, secret-selling, military dictator of Panama throughout the 1980s. However, it turns out he had a great deal of help from the American CIA.Sponsors!Audible - Get 3 months of Audible for just $6.95 a month by going to Audible.com/KINGPINS or text KINGPINS to 500 500.
After the death of his boss, Bumpy Johnson in 1968, Frank Lucas is ready to capitalize on the open market. Originally a small-time dealer on the streets of Harlem, he becomes one of the most successful heroin dealers of all time.Sponsors!Parcast - Rate, review and subscribe to our new show Assassinations which premieres November 19th!
Moving from North Carolina to New York City, Frank Lucas engaged in petty crime and pool hustling before he began smuggling drugs using coffins of dead American servicemen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He cut out the middleman and bought heroin directly from the source. Sponsors!Parcast - Rate, review, and subscribe to our new podcast Hostage!
This vicious leader had very little regard for human life as if it stood in the way of his business. Pablo Acosta Villarreal commanded a 500 person operation on both sides of the border before his downfall and death in 1987. Sponsors!Parcast - Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe to our new podcast Hostage!
He repaired schools, paid medical bills for the poor and elderly, in exchange for one thing: control. The whole town protected him. But who was the man that brought him down?Sponsors!Parcast - Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe to our new podcast Hostage!
In the early years of the Mexican drug world, there were no cartels - there were only kingpins. The border region was a lawless desert governed by bloody shootouts, crooked cops, and folk-hero bandits. And to rule an old-fashioned frontier, it takes an old-fashioned outlaw. Parcast - Subscribe to our new show Hostage! Head to Parcast.com/Hostage now so you don’t miss an episode!
After 13 years as a Mafia hit man, he found himself in the crosshairs of the New Jersey Police. There was only one thing left to do: slaughter every last one of his friends before they got the chance to turn on him.Parcast - Subscribe to our new show Hostage! Head to Parcast.com/Hostage now so you don’t miss an episode!
He killed over a hundred people before the police had even heard his name. So when the Mafia needed a body to drop without getting their hands dirty, there was only one man to call. Richard Kuklinski was quick, vicious, and utterly invisible. Parcast - Subscribe to our new show Hostage! Head to Parcast.com/Hostage now so you don’t miss an episode!
Violence. Corruption. Decadence. Kingpins and Queenpins live heightened lives. This new podcast tells their unbelievable stories. Kingpins tracks the rise and fall of the notorious, presenting bizarre and captivating tales from the underworld. Along the way, the hosts profile the insane people, skewed relationships, and pressure-cooker environments behind organized crime. What's it really like to live like a Kingpin? Tune in to Kingpins every Friday. Kingpins is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media Production.
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