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Antivirus Developer John McAfee Arrested in Belize on 'Bogus Charges'

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When antivirus software inventor John McAfee relocated his life and business interests to Central America in 2007, he ended up getting more than the tropical paradise of a tax shelter he’d bargained for.

With McAfee Associates behind him -- which was eventually acquired by Intel Corporation (INTC) -- McAfee switched gears from curing computer diseases to those that infect people. He set out to find herbal solutions to drug-resistant bacteria, deep in the rainforests of Belize. But McAfee’s venture developing natural antibiotics came to an abrupt and frightening halt this week when the government came pounding down his door.

In the early morning hours of May 1, a law enforcement arm of the Belize police force, called the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), raided McAfee’s research facility in the northwest district Orange Walk. The GSU allegedly ransacked the property looking for drugs and firearms, shot and killed McAfee’s dog, handcuffed him and his 12 employees, confiscated his passport, and put him under arrest for possessing illegal weapons.

McAfee is crying corruption. The raid and arrest, he says, are bogus and merely the consequences of his refusal to line the coffer of a United Democratic Party (UDP) politician -- the “local political boss,” as McAfee describes him. While the GSU found a cache of weapons during the search of his property -- including 12-gauge shotguns, handguns, and rifles with scopes -- McAfee had permits for all but one of them, which he claims a GSU soldier not-so-accidentally misplaced.

“Fortunately we had copies,” McAfee said. “Even then it was difficult to get out. I had to get the intervention of the American embassy to get released. By the time I got to Belize, it was sixteen hours. I slept until 2 a.m. on a concrete floor at the Queen’s Street Police Station until the embassy finally convinced someone to release me.”

The GSU has a reputation for abusing power in Belize, conducting illegal raids and indiscriminately using violent force against innocent civilians.  

“This is clearly a military dictatorship where people are allowed to go and harass citizens based on rumor alone and treat them as if they are guilty before any evidence whatsoever is obtained,” said McAfee.

Ultimately, McAfee was not charged with any crime.
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