John McAfee ... targetted by Belize police. Photo: Channel 5 Belize
The retired founder of anti-virus firm McAfee claims police killed one of his dogs, confiscated his passport, and arrested and falsely imprisoned him on "bogus" weapons charges after they conducted a dawn raid at his property in Belize.
John McAfee, 66, claimed in a Channel 5 Belize news report that local law enforcement authorities raided the philanthropist's laboratory - which reportedly researches ways to use bacterial communication to fight disease - in Tower Hill, Orange Walk on May 1 in retaliation to his refusal to donate money to a local politician.
They threw things around, they stole things—it was unbelievable, unimaginable for a country that was supposedly a democratic country.
In a statement to Channel 5, McAfee claimed that about 30 armed members of the local police force stormed his laboratory with sledge hammers to break the doors of buildings which weren't locked and got him and 11 others to put their hands up against a wall so they could be handcuffed while the raid was conducted.
What's believed to be one of the houses on John McAfee's property in Belize. Photo: Channel 5 Belize
The local TV station said the raid was a joint operation between the Belize Defence Force, Belize Special Assignments Group and Gang Suppression Unit to "search for drugs and illegal firearms".
McAfee told Channel 5 he was woken at 6am on the day of the raid to the sound of a megaphone outside his complex where he saw law enforcement officers in uniform with automatic weapons storming his property.
"They threw things around, they stole things—it was unbelievable, unimaginable for a country that was supposedly a democratic country," McAfee claimed in Channel 5's report of the raid. He described the ordeal as a "nightmare".
A shot of some of the damage left by Belize authorities. Photo: Channel 5 Belize
"This is clearly a military dictatorship where people are allowed to go and harass citizens based on rumour alone and treat them as if they are guilty before any evidence whatsoever is obtained. It is astonishing, it is beyond belief and I intend not to let this stand. I will not stand idly by to let this happen to me."
The officers handcuffed McAfee and the 11 others on his property for fourteen hours "outside in the sun" while the raid was conducted, according to McAfee, and would not allow them to have a drink of water until 12pm. When he and others asked for food to eat at 3pm an officer, according to McAfee, said: "Do we look like cooks to you?"
McAfee said during the raid officers killed one of his dogs "in cold blood". The Gang Suppression Unit told Channel 5 that a member of the Belize Defence Force was attacked by the dog and shot it.
The police claimed at the end of the raid that unlicenced firearms had been found on the premises and put McAfee in jail. McAfee described the claim as "bogus" and was eventually released with the help of the US embassy when he provided copies of all licences. He claimed officials confiscated a number of documents during the raid including his passport and firearm licences for him and security guards.
Further, the police also claimed that personnel from Belize's Ministry of Health were taken to inspect McAfee's facility for samples of an alleged antibiotic apparently being manufactured at the laboratory without a licence.
The employment of security guards at McAfee's research lab was also brought up for "providing security services without a licence", according to a statement provided by the Gang Suppression Unit to Channel 5. Three guards were arrested and charged, the TV station reported.
Belize is a country located on the north eastern coast of Central America and its Gang Suppression Unit has been accused by local media as being a rogue unit of the United Democratic Party to conduct illegal raids.
The retired anti-virus firm founder moved to Belize where he became a permanent citizen in or around 2009 when his $US100 million fortune had been reduced to just $US4 million.
He donated a boat worth $1.2 million to the Belize Coast Guard to help in its war against drug trafficking when he moved there and said that he believed the raid was a result of him refusing to support financially a local politician who recently lost in the general elections.