Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Missing the Boat: By the Numbers

A cell phone company in Bulgaria supposedly suspended (five years ago?) the number 0888 888 888 because the last three people who used it have all died.

Sounds like an eerie coincidence, right? There must be voodoo at work, right?

Well, here is a brief profile of the last three people assigned this mobile number, courtesy of the Telegraph:
1. The first owner Vladimir Grashnov – the former CEO of Bulgarian mobile phone company Mobitel which issued the number – died of cancer in 2001 aged just 48.

2. The number then passed to Bulgarian mafia boss, Konstantin Dimitrov, who was gunned down in 2003 by a lone assassin in the Netherlands during a trip to inspect his £500 million drug smuggling empire. Dimitrov, who died aged 31, had the mobile with him when he was shot while eating out with a model. [You kinda wish 'with' wasn't there, right? Me, too. -Ed.] Russian mafia bosses – jealous of his drug smuggling operation – were said to have been behind the killing.

3. The phone number then passed to Konstantin Dishliev, a crooked businessman, who was gunned down outside an Indian restaurant in Bulgaria's capital Sofia after taking over the jinxed line. Dishliev, an estate agent, had secretly been running a massive cocaine trafficking operation before his assassination in 2005. He died after £130 million of the drug was intercepted by police on its way into the country from Colombia.
Hmm. So...some 48-year-old guy died of cancer...no big deal there...two criminals were shot dead...no big deal there, either...three rich people wanted the only Bulgarian vanity mobile number that consists of the same digit...ditto...snore...

Call me crazy, but I find the fact that two nine-figure international drug traffickers were both thriving in Bulgaria far more fascinating than this whole telephone-number thing.

The GDP of the entire nation is only $45.9 billion, after all (by contrast, the US GDP is $14 trillion). Assuming Dishliev's operation was about triple that last bust (it could well have been more), these two drug smugglers alone accounted for $1.27 billion--or 2.8% of Bulgaria's GDP.

That is the equivalent of two men in the United States independently running drug empires worth a combined $39.2 billion, or roughly the entire GDP of Bulgaria.

To give you an even better perspective on that number, when the DEA dropped in on Pablo Escobar's secret cocaine factory in the jungles of Colombia in 1984, they seized 14 tons of cocaine--worth only $1 billion. At their peak, the entire Medellin Cartel was only making $25 billion a year.

The bottom line here? Who knows. Selling drugs is lucrative? Don't carry a cell phone?

Oh, wait--I know:

If you are an illicit captain of industry in a small European nation and worth a staggering sum of money, you should probably travel with a grip of bodyguards in a fleet of bulletproof Mercedes sedans.

Also, you should avoid having a phone number that is so easy for people to remember (or perhaps take a page out of Stringer Bell's book and avoid phones altogether); aren't you supposed to be minting money in the shadows?

And, while you're at it, what with those crafty Russians and their penchant for poisons, you should probably hire a food taster. May I recommend a voicebox-less Carrot Top? I'd love for somebody to take that asshole off our hands...



Benji said...

This was great.

Goodtime Charlie said...

Thanks. Glad you liked it.