Saturday, June 15, 2024

John McAfee arrested by GSU Police for illegal firearms; claims political vendetta


John McAfee - Photo by Channel 5 Belize News

John McAfee, the inventor of the McAfee Virus Scan is claiming that members of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) stormed into his estate located on the outskirts of Orange Walk Town and was a victim of an aggressive search.

The wealthy US investor, who moved to Belize in 2008 and spends his time between homes in San Pedro and Orange Walk, claimed that not only was he a victim of an aggressive search but his doors were bust open despite being unlocked and one of his pet dogs was shot and killed.

John McAfee Research Hut - Photo by Gizmodo

Sometime around 6AM on Monday, April 30th, GSU personnel descended on the mainland property belonging to the 66 year old McAfee, namely the Belize Ecological Foundation Limited, located next to the Tower Hill Bridge in Carmelita Village, Orange Walk District. After the GSU officers entered his estate, McAfee said that his dog, Caramelo, was shot and killed after which the men broke down doors and ransacked the nine houses on the compound.

According to Police, present at the time of the search were John McAfee, his 17-year-old Belizean girlfriend who is a minor, four security guards, 33 year old Emerson Michael who claimed to be the Chief of Security, 23 year old Emerson Dominguez, 46 year old Austin Allen and 23 year old Tyron Morales who are all Belizean nationals. Also present was Michael’s common-law wife Princesa Ericson.

Firearms found at John McAfee compound - Photo by Channel 5 Belize

Police claim that during the search ten firearms were found. The firearms where seven 12 gauge pump action shotguns (one of which had a scope), one 12 gauge single action shotgun, one Taurus 9mm pistol and one 9MM CZ pistol. Five air rifles with scopes resembling sniper rifles that use 6.26 mm slugs were also found along with two hundred and seventy 12 gauge cartridges, thirty 9 mm rounds and twenty .38 rounds.

The GSU reports that all the firearms and rounds of ammunition were scattered over the premises including inside the vehicles and houses that were unoccupied. According to the GSU, McAfee produced a company firearm license for all the weapons and ammunition with the exception of one firearm that is licensed to Tyron Morales and a 9 MM CZ pistol with serial number A796245.

McAfee could not provide a firearm license for the 9mm CZ pistol and a check at the Police Headquarters in Belmopan verified that no record appeared for a firearm license for the given gun found on McAfee’s property. However, a“letter of approval” for the transfer of the firearm from one Jennifer Erwin to McAfee was provided to the GSU that explained how the gun was on the premises. According to the GSU the letter was signed by a senior officer who was the immediate predecessor of the officer holding the current post that deals with firearm license within the Police Department. The matter is still under investigation since the “letter of approval for transfer” had no serial number or brand of the firearm, something that is unusual.

During the entire operation, which lasted some 14 hours, McAfee, along with those found on the property were handcuffed while the GSU conducted their search. After the operation all, including McAfee were transferred to the Queen Street Police Station in Belize City where police conducted several checks to verify their information. After all checks were made, McAfee was released around 2AM on Tuesday, May 1st without any charge being brought against him.

Speaking to the media, McAfee stated that“they said that they had a warrant to search the premises. I remained in handcuffs for 14 hours, outside the whole time without food. 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.”

According to the GSU, investigation regarding the employment of the security guards revealed that only one out of the four guards was licensed to act as security guards.  Checks made with the office responsible for Security Guard Licenses at the Police Headquarters in Belmopan revealed that Emerson Michael, Austin Allen and Emerson Dominguez do not appear in their records as licensed holders. The three were arrested and charged for “providing security services without a license”.

John McAfee bacteria research - Photo by Fast Company

The GSU says that as part of the search they also found a laboratory where it appears that antibiotics are being produced. The GSU release states that “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 license has been granted to McAfee or any of his agents to manufacture antibiotics in Belize.” The Director of Health Services, Dr. Michael Pitts, indicated that neither the Ministry nor the Chief Pharmacist in Belize had knowledge of such operation conducted by McAfee in Belize. Producing antibiotics or “antiseptics” without a license is an offence under the Antibiotics Act in Belize.  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.

Regarding the pet killed in the operation, the GSU says that “three of eleven dogs on the premises attacked and bit one of the GSU officers on his right thigh and the same dog proceeded to attack a BDF soldier who responded by fatally wounding the dog.

McAfee has donated several times to the Ministry of National Security. In 2009 McAfee made a donation of a vessel worth over $1 million to the Belize National Coast Guard. He has also donated to local police departments on different instances. In 2008 McAfee donated two All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) totaling $40,000 in value to the San Pedro Police Department. In addition, more recently in 2011, he donated a number of equipment to the SP Police valued at over $3,500. McAfee said that “I have donated to the police department alone, over two million dollars worth of goods in the past two years. I have done a tremendous amount of work to clean up Carmelita, to provide food for school children and to be treated this way, after I have acted in such a fashion, makes me think twice about investing anything else here.”

The GSU says McAfee had $19,650 in cash in his bedroom which was counted and secured by him. The raid on McAfee’s property was conducted jointly by GSU, Belize Defense Force (BDF) and Belize Special Assignment Group (BSAG). According to the GSU, before entering McAfee’s premises they announced their presence and purpose of search which they say was for “drugs and illegal firearms”. They further stated that the operation was based solely on information about supposed illegal activities being conducted on McAfee’s property. However, McAfee believes that the raid was to settle a vendetta by a politician from the United Democratic Party whom he would not give a donation to during recent elections.

The GSU claims that two months ago a Special Police team attempted to conduct a similar search on McAfee’s premises but were prevented from doing so.

The San Pedro Sun has placed calls to McAfee for an interview but to date the message has not been returned.

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