MIAMI BEACH

Deported computer guru John McAfee spends celebrity-like day on South Beach

 

A day after his deportation from Guatemala, software guru John McAfee ate sushi, hit up Ross for clothes and talked about his Central American troubles.

aedgerton@MiamiHerald.com

On his first day in the United States after his release from a Guatemalan jail, tech millionaire John McAfee ate sushi, shopped on Lincoln Road and talked about his escapades for the past year — some of which sounded like a script from a telenovela.

“I have no future, and if I have no future, that means I have no fear,” said McAfee, the 67-year-old inventor of McAfee anti-virus software. “I can’t say how long I’m going to stay in Miami because I have no plans.”

He talked about his escape from Belize on Dec. 2, the two days he spent in a Guatemala City hotel and his week in immigration detention for not getting his passport stamped when he snuck into the country. He blamed his arrest on Guatemalan officials not wanting to jeopardize the country’s delicate relationship with neighboring Belize.

McAfee said his troubles with Belizean authorities began long before the shooting death of his neighbor, American Gregory Faull last month.

Months earlier, he said, corrupt Belizean authorities demanded $2 million, promising to give him land and services worth at least $20 million in return. McAfee said that when he refused the deal, the country’s Gang Suppression Unit raided his house on April 30, “shot my dog, destroyed property” and left him handcuffed outside in the sun for 14 hours.

After McAfee took his plight to the international media, Belizean authorities admitted a raid took place.

When his neighbor’s body was discovered on Nov. 11, McAfee said he found out about it the next morning. A Belizean official with the Gang Suppression Unit named McAfee as a person of interest.

As police showed up to raid his house again, he slipped out, escaping into Guatemala by illegally crossing the border with his girlfriend Sam and a reporter and photographer from New York City-based Vice magazine. When the magazine unwittingly posted a photo tagged with his location, he said he knew authorities would be coming for him.

He contacted his lawyer, Telesforo Guerro, the former attorney general of Guatemala, giving Guerro his unstamped passport.

When 50 Guatemalan officers showed up at his hotel in Guatemala City on Dec. 5, he said they asked for his passport. When he couldn’t produce it, they took him away.

For the week he was in immigration detention, McAfee said he was posting on his blog whoismcafee.com under the alias Harold M.

When he was released Wednesday morning to be deported to the United States, he said he didn’t know where he was going until he saw “Miami” at the gate where his flight was leaving out of Guatemala City. When he arrived at Miami International Airport, federal agents met him and handed him his passport.

He said he was never questioned by the IRS or the FBI.

On Thursday, his first full day of freedom, McAfee emerged from the Beacon Hotel and was mobbed by reporters and tourists. In the crowd was cabbie Frankie Camacho, who handed him a phone number on a slip of paper. Ten minutes later, McAfee was in Camacho’s cab with two reporters in tow.

McAfee was in need of clothes. He said he’d arrived in Miami the night before with nothing but the suit he was wearing and two laptops. Camacho drove to Ross Dress for Less on Alton and Fifth Street.

“Ross! Perfect! Dress for less!” McAfee said, handing Camacho a wad of bills to turn off the meter and be his driver for the day.

McAfee chatted about Sam and Amy, two young Belizean women — both former lovers — that he left behind Guatemala. Sam accompanied him to Guatemala and Amy has since joined her there.

McAfee said his primary concern is to get them to the United States because he fears for their safety.

Samantha Venegas is a 20-year-old former security guard who has been McAfee’s girlfriend for a year and a half. He said they met when she knocked on his door to complain about something; “I think my dog ate one of her chickens or something,” he said.

He said Amy, 18, was his girlfriend before Sam. He claimed Amy tried to kill him four times during their relationship out of jealousy .

None of these details could be independently verified.

Back in the cab en route to lunch, McAfee talked about why he had spent the past three years in Belize. He said one of the groundless charges local authorities leveled against him was running an illegal antibiotics lab.

“Merck and Bayer have doled out so much money that it’s a crime to do research in these countries now,” he said. “If I were growing pot, it’d be a $100 fine.”

He said he personally hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol or any drugs since Oct. 31, 1983 and rumors that he was on bath salts or any drug were totally untrue.

“All I know about bath salts is that they make people eat people’s faces,” he said. “And if I were to slip, please, I have the resources to take good drugs.”

McAfee needed a phone, but after stepping one foot in the Apple store on Lincoln Road, he left abruptly, saying “They always make you feel like it’s such a f—king privilege to shop in this store.” The phone would have to wait until after lunch.

At Sushi Samba on Lincoln Road, McAfee ordered nigiri sushi and appetizers for the table and virgin mojitos for himself and Camacho. “Most refreshing drink in the world,” he said.

Eating sushi with his hands, McAfee gave love advice to his lunch companions and waxed philosophical about what separates humans from animals. He talked nonstop for two hours, opining about Apple founder Steve Jobs (“finest man the world has ever produced”), the ability to cry, and what one might see walking around South Beach at 3 a.m. in the morning, as he had done the previous night.

“Interesting people are out then,” he said. “My kind of people.”

For his cellphone options, Camacho suggested a prepaid, but the plan didn’t offer options to call Guatemala and Belize. He bought another phone and put on the $300 maximum credit.

He was excited, he said, because this was his first touch phone. “But I could still hack into your computer and steal your bank account information.”

El Nuevo Herald reporter Alfonso Chardy contributed reporting.

Follow Anna Edgerton on Twitter at @AnnaEdge4.

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