John McCafee is a wealthy US investor who has retired in Belize and splits his time between homes in San Pedro and Orange Walk.
You may know has name from the McAfee Virus Scan, one of the first anti-virus programs for personal computers.
But neither his famous name nor his status as a wealthy investor spared the 66 year old from the indignity of an aggressive GSU search of his Orange Walk Estate on Monday morning.
The estate is just right of the Tower Hill Toll Bridge at the entrance to Orange Walk.
The search started at 6:00 am – and he says the first thing the GSU did was shoot and kill one of his dogs, Caramelo. After that, he says they broke down doors and ransacked the nine houses on the estate.
The unit was looking for weapons – and McAfee had plenty of them: 7 shotguns and two nine millimeter pistols – which he says are licensed to his personal security company. But, it didnt matter, McAfee says he and 12 employees were still handcuffed for an extended period.
He was brought in those handcuffs to Belize City and released on Tuesday at 2:00 am – without any charge being brought against him. After his 14-hour ordeal, he told us via phone from San Pedro about it:
John McaFee – Raided by GSU (Via Telephone)
At 6 oclock in the morning, the GSU – I think the entire contingent – and a number of BDF soldiers – a total of 65 in all – surrounded the compound, burst through the gates, and put all of us in handcuffs. They said that they had a warrant to search the premises. I remained in handcuffs for 14 hours, outside the whole time, without food. None of us had food. There were about 12 people who were handcuffed which included a number of women, and BDF broke down doors, confiscated property – including my American passport – and at the end of the day, they charged me with a firearm violation. The GSU was brutal and uncooperative. They broke down doors; they completely ransacked many of the houses on the compound. Items are missing. I am sorry; this is unacceptable in a country that is supposed to be civilized in a democracy. I have donated to the police department alone, over 2 million dollars worth of goods in the past 2 years. I have done a tremendous amount of work to clean up Carmelita, to provide food for school children – any number of things. And to be treated this way, after I have acted in such a fashion, makes me think twice about investing anything else here.
And while he is accusing the GSU, that unit is making no apologies – in fact they are pointing the finger right back at him.
The GSU this evening sent a lengthy release addressing the situation. It says that the search was a joint operation along with the Belize Special Assignment Group and BDF.
The release says that upon arrival, the GSU announced its presence and purpose to search for drugs and illegal firearms.
Simultaneously the houses on the premises were cleared, one of which was serving as a laboratory. Present on the premises at the time were John McAfee, his girlfriend who is a 17 year old Belizean minor, and five security guards.
During the search ten firearms – seven 12 gauge pump action shotguns, one 12 gauge single action shotgun, one Taurus 9mm pistol and one 9MM CZ pistol – were found. Five air rifles with scopes resembling sniper rifles that use 6.26 mm slugs were also found and two hundred and seventy 12 gauge cartridges, thirty 9 mm rounds and twenty .38 rounds.
All these firearms and rounds of ammunition were scattered over the premises including inside the vehicles and houses that were unoccupied.
The GSU says, McAfee produced a Company firearm licence for all the above firearms except one of the 9 MilliMeter pistols.
Checks were then made with the senior officer with responsibility for firearms and explosives at Belmopan Police Headquarters who verified that no records appeared for a firearms licence for that firearm to McAfee.
Still, the GSU says McAfee was later released after producing a license for the firearm to the Police. It is still under investigation as no such licence has yet been found in the records at Police Headquarters
Additionally, analysts at the Forensic Laboratory, and personnel from the Ministry of Health were taken to inspect the facility and samples of an alleged antibiotic apparently being manufactured at the Laboratory were taken for analysis. The Ministry of Health has already confirmed that no licence has been granted to McAFEE or any of his agents to manufacture antibiotics in Belize. Doing so without a licence is an offence under the Antibiotics Act. A decision as to whether or not charges will be laid will be taken by the Ministry within the next few days when the report of the Forensic Analyst becomes available.
Investigation regarding the employment of the security guards revealed that only two out of the four guards are licensed to act as Security Guards.
And there are charges; MICHAEL, ALLEN and DOMINGUEZ were arrested and charged for providing security services without a license.
The GSU says McAFEE did have $19,650.00 in cash in his bedroom and say it was counted and secured by him.
As for the dogs, the GSU says during the operation, three of eleven dogs attacked and bit one of the GSU officers on his right thigh and the same dog – presumably Caramelo – proceeded to attack a BDF soldier who responded and shot the dog.
The GSU adds that 2 months ago, a Special Police team attempted to conduct a similar search on McAFEEs premises but were prevented from doing so.
The unit says the search at McAFEEs premises was based solely on information about supposed illegal activities being conducted there. McAfee says it was to settle a political vendetta from a politician whom he would not give a donation to.