Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the raid on the home of retired antivirus entrepreneur John McAfee is how familiar it all sounds. Dozens of paramilitary troops? Check. Automatic weapons? Of course. Unlocked doors smashed from hinges? You bet. Dog shot by the cops? You don't even need to ask. But this all happened in a poor, third-world country: Belize. It shouldn't happen there, but it's not all that surprising that it did. What is surprising is how similar it all is to common incidents in the prosperous and bill-of-rightsy United States.
McAfee told the tale of the raid to Belize's News 5:
On Monday at six o'clock, I was awakened by the sound of a bullhorn, a megaphone. I went outside and saw about thirty GSU in full uniform, full dressed, automatic weapons, storming through the property and drive way. I went back inside, got some clothes on, I came out. I was told to put up my hands up against the wall as was eleven other people on the compound. We had about eleven people present at the time—five of them were women. I was told that they had a warrant to search property. They began, with sledge hammers, to break the doors of the buildings—none of them were locked, but they just went and broke them in any case. I was merely watching this. They confiscated my passport, all of the weapons we used for security on the compound, handcuffed me and everyone and for fourteen hours outside in the sun, I sat handcuffed without food or water. We got water around noon. At three o'clock we asked for food. We were told by the GSU, do we look like cooks to you. They murdered my dog in cold blood. That was the thing I think—it was a warning to us that this is serious; don't mess with us.
Ultimately, McAfee was arrested for possessing a firearm without a license — he says one of his licenses mysteriously went missing after the police got hold of it. He was released after producing a copy of the license and a representative of the U.S. embassy. Supporting his allegation is a police press release claiming that they still can't verify a license for one gun out of the ten seized. Oh, and that by the way, they're really charging him for illegally manufacturing antibiotics. Because that's a big concern in Belize.
McAfee's Belize Ecological Foundation Ltd. is researching possible pharmaceutical uses of local plants. Well … Good for him. He says his real crime was failing to pay off the local United Democratic Party boss. The Gang Suppression Unit that raided his facility has been labeled a paramilitary arm of the UDP.
Political parties in the U.S. don't need their own paramilitary arms. More politically polished as our nation is, our politicians peacefully share control over paramilitary units. Units such as the Prince George's County SWAT team that raided the home of Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, and killed his two dogs during a misfired marijuana raid. Or the uniformed mob that bloodily stormed a low-stakes poker game in South Carolina — and the troops at similar raids on poker games in Dallas. And then there was the dog-unfriendly raid in Columbia, Missouri, on the home of a man who had a little grass stashed away.
Read through the details of those raids: Dead dogs, smashed doors, hooded and armored cops … Omit the locations and see if you can parse out any significant differences between the McAfee raid and the ongoing raids in the United States.
Because, at the end of the day, it's seems impossible to tell if thirld-world cops are learning from their American counterparts, or if American police are looking to the impoverished dumps of the world for inspiration.