A college education, passion, drive, determination and a belief that you will succeed are said to be what you need to become a millionaire or even a billionaire. For people such as Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, it was a simple idea and a crazy notion that they could actually do it. The same goes for many of the world’s wealthiest and most successful businessmen and women. The road, the journey to success, was long, hard and arduous. But who wants to bother with that when you can get into the life of crime and actually make just as much money as some of the world’s wealthiest men and women without actually paying taxes on your money?
Normal people with integrity and work ethic and morals, but those are not the kind of people we are talking about right now. We are talking about the world’s wealthiest criminals. They got rich the illegal way, and they are probably quite proud of that. While we recommend the legal manner of getting rich, these men and women are a bit outside the box (and the legal lines) when it comes to making money, and it worked for them (save for the prison sentences and other minor details).
Here are the 10 richest criminals of all-time.
Joseph Kennedy – Estimated net worth – $400 million
Yes, he’s that kind of Kennedy. He didn’t look like he was much of a criminal, but it turns out he was one of the most notorious criminals of all time using his connections and his wealth to increase his net worth by millions during the prohibition. He sold bootleg alcohol to people who weren’t allowed to have it, and it’s said he even had a woman raped so he could frame someone else to get rid of the competition. He was close with crime Lords and bosses from some of the most notorious crime families in the world, and he would have been worth billions today.
Meyer Lansky – Estimated net worth – $400 million
Known less by his actual name than his nickname, the “Mob’s Accountant,” wasn’t exactly on fine terms with the IRS. He made his millions in the 30s by running illegal gambling rings across the country. He worked closely with the most famous mobsters and Mafia members in the world, and he still has millions hidden away even after being gone more than 30 years.
Griselda Blanco – Estimated net worth – $500 million
It’s not common to hear much about female gangsters, but she reigned as one of the most dangerous and profitable in the 70s and 80s, particularly in Miami and particularly in the drug trade. She is well-known for committing her first murder when she was only 11, and she took her business just as seriously even though it’s been assumed she is a sociopath. She’s a known rapist and she killed all three of her husbands. She is also suspected of killing more than 200 people by hand in her life. She fell off the radar in 2007.
Anthony Salerno – Estimated net worth – $600 million
He began his life of crime in gambling and working as a loan shark. Salerno eventually worked his way up to the role of Consigliere in the Genovese crime family. He is thought to have been behind dozens of murders, spent much of his life hiding money and racketeering, and he’s known for his cigar smoking and pajamas.
Joaquin Loera (El Chapo) – Estimated net worth – $1 billion
You might know him better as El Chapo. He’s one of the most successful, most famous drug Lords of all-time in Mexico, and his net worth really does show that. Chapo’s been in the news for the last 2 years due to his escape from prison and eventual capture. Also, his “interview” with one Sean Penn became extremely famous. It’s possible he’s still dealing drugs behind bars, and it’s estimated that his worth is actually closer to $5 billion. It’s only a matter of time before El Chapo tries to escape again. Perhaps to fulfill his $100 million bounty on Donald Trump.
Susumu Ishii – Estimated net worth – $1.5 billion
Sadly, Ishii began his life as part of the military, but decided after living through war he’d become a gangster. He was involved in the Inagawa-kai gang and worked his way up the ladder pretty quickly in terms of his street smarts and his fearlessness when it came to killing anyone in his way. He was famous for real estate scams, but he lost most of his money in the late 1980s. Some say that’s the reason behind his death, but either way, he was a major criminal.
Carlos Enrique Lehder Rivas – Esimated net worth – $2.7 billion
Have you heard of the Medellin Cartel? It’s one of the most famous South American drug cartels in the world, and he’s the man behind it. He was famous for spending millions on an island in the Bahamas and a private plane of his own to make his drug smuggling easier, and he made billions after that. He’s currently in prison in the United States, where he’s been for more than two decades.
Al Capone – Estimated net worth – $1 billion +
We’re using his net worth in modern money since he’s been gone a while – he made over $100 million per year throughout his career which amounts to more than $1 billion per year right now. Known as the original untouchable, he was a bootleg alcohol supplier in the 20s and 30s, primarily in the Chicago area. He was eventually arrested for tax evasion, but he was actually a man who gave back very generously to charity and had a great public reputation in the charitable world. Still though, that doesn’t account for the 1000s of people who died as a result of his criminal activities.
Pablo Escobar – Estimated net worth – $25 billion
Escobar was born in Colombia and he was part of the Medellin cartel as well. He had a family of his own, and he worked very hard to push drugs across the world. He’s known as one of the most ruthless and considered the most successful drug Lord of all time. There’s even a show based on his life called Narcos. When it comes to cocaine, there is no bigger name in the history of its dealings than Pablo Escobar.
Amado Carrillo Fuentes – Estimated net worth – $25 billion
The head of a massive Mexican drug empire, he was famous for undergoing illegal plastic surgery to change the way he looked so that he could stay on the run from the law. He owned multiple 727 planes on which he ran his drugs, and he was famous for being responsible for the deaths of what many assume is thousands before his own death from poor health.