EXCLUSIVE: In a deal firmed as an electrifying criminal murder trial unfolds, HarperCollins – under the publishing imprint established by filmmaker Michael Mann — has preemptively acquired publishing rights to a book Elaine Shannon has written about the transnational organized crime figure Paul Le Roux. Mann has simultaneously closed a deal for film and television rights to the book.

Shannon, an investigative reporter who has written for Time and Newsweek, wrote the 1988 acclaimed book Desperados, which Mann turned into the Emmy-winning NBC miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story, a chronicle of the 1985 torture and murder of undercover DEA agent Kimi Camarena by drug lords in Mexico.

The saga of Le Roux has a similar sweep. He was the head of an array of ruthless transnational criminal enterprises. Linked to Iran, North Korea and terrorist groups, Le Roux has been described as one of the most dangerous transnational criminals of the 21st century.

Shannon has spent four years immersed in Le Roux’s shadowy world to gather the story, which tells how Le Roux reorganized transnational hard drug production and distribution, the arms trade, military hi-tech, murder for hire, mercenary operations and more with 21st century modalities. It is also a chronicle of the manhunt for Le Roux across six continents by an elite team of investigators from the 960 Group, a secretive element within the agency’s Special Operations Division. He was captured and charged with multiple murders.

Joseph Manuel Hunter
Joseph Manuel Hunter
REX/Shutterstock

Le Roux emerged from the shadows last week to detail the breadth of his criminal exploits when he testified for the prosecution in Manhattan Federal District Court in the murder trials of Joseph Hunter — a former US Army sniper and instructor turned assassin for Le Roux — and two other alleged gunmen, Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell. They were charged with the 2012 gunshot murder of Filipino real estate agent Catherine Lee, whom Le Roux said he had killed because he believed she had stolen from him.

Michael Mann
Mann
REX/Shutterstock

Mann has been quietly been following Le Roux and the manhunt while Shannon researched and wrote the book — he attended the recent court hearings in New York — and this is a story he is passionate about telling on screen.

“Elaine Shannon’s book,” Mann said, “took me into the actual people and places, the language and attitudes as powerfully as great fiction. Deeply and vividly, it illuminates the mind of LeRoux and the dark frontier of transnational crime.”

It puts Mann back in the landscape of skilled criminality that he has explored in films from Heat to Thief, Public Enemies, Miami Vice, Collateral and Manhunter.

William Morrow/HarperCollins’ David Highfill acquired the book and will serve as editor. Mann has written the introduction. Pub date hasn’t been firmed but the book is on a fast track and will get a title shortly.

Shannon’s book and film deals were made by Shane Salerno at The Story Factory, who also represents Michael Mann Books, the imprint that launched in 2016 with a slate of titles that includes a prequel to Mann’s iconic crime drama Heat.