Ntaganda, however, is on a U.N. sanctions list, but that hasn't kept him from earning an untold fortune operating businesses across eastern Congo and abroad. He's known to be so ruthless that he's reportedly executed officers within his rebel group who disagree with him.
The ICC indictment alleges Ntaganda, usually referred to using his first name Bosco, commanded a force responsible for arresting, torturing and murdering hundreds of civilians in 2002-2003.
"He's somebody who has quite a bit of blood on his hands," says Stearns. "He's also the mastermind of a smuggling racket and he has made a fortune in recent years."
Ntaganda takes advantage of elaborate gold and mineral smuggling schemes that involve interlopers in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. While the trade in coltan, the mineral found in tin used to make cell phones and other electronics, has received so much attention the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring electronic companies to verify the origin of material used, gold continues to trade with almost no oversight at all.
"Congolese gold is much in demand," the U.N. report states. "Most of the gold trade in the country goes unrecorded, and most transactions are concluded in neighboring countries."
For example, the monitoring group found that there was a difference of more than three tons of gold between the import statistics of the United Arab Emirates, where much of Congo's gold ends up, and the exports claimed by the government of Uganda.
High gold prices and little oversight make trading the commodity a lucrative venture for not only people like Mutombo, wanting to invest in the war-torn country, but also for Congo's brutal military and rebel groups.