McAfee’s journey in Catalonia: an abandoned hotel and a cryptocurrency factory | Economy


John McAfee in a 2012 file photo.
John McAfee in a 2012 file photo.Alan Diaz / AP

To know the steps of John McAfee, found dead on Wednesday in prison, you only had to follow his social networks. Except for some lies, or attempts to mislead, McAfee recounted his journey through Catalonia the last year and a half. He had traveled to Tarragona to visit friends, in his own words, and was caught up in the pandemic. But the police suspect that he established his base camp there, from where he moved through Europe. The authorities believe that he lived in a semi-abandoned hotel in Cambrils, the Daurada Park. Two years earlier, in an administrative inspection, the Mossos found a cryptocurrency factory on the ground floor of the establishment.

Was that McAfee’s mission in Catalonia? Retreat to a discreet place, like Cambrils, in a semi-abandoned hotel, to manufacture cryptocurrencies? His lawyer, Javier Villalba, does not give details of what he was doing in Catalonia or where he was staying. It is not random. In addition to the cause for not presenting the declarations to the Treasury between 2014 and 2018 for which the extradition of McAfee was ordered, a second petition from the United States to the National Court weighs against him, still embryonic, where he is accused of making money with cryptocurrencies without declaring it.

Sources in his environment deny that McAfee was related to the Russian people who bought the Daurada Park hotel, a very popular old place in the area, with a gas station where people stopped to refuel, which was devalued when they built a highway. Now you have to turn off to access it. But on their social networks, the businessman’s followers did not hesitate to identify the hotel through the photographs that McAfee posted. It is currently closed, guarded by a security guard.

The Daurada Park Hotel, in Cambrils, where the Mossos found a cryptocurrency factory.
The Daurada Park Hotel, in Cambrils, where the Mossos found a cryptocurrency factory.Josep Lluís Sellart

During his trips around the world, the more than a million fans that the antivirus creator had on Twitter and the more than 55,000 on Instagram (the account has been deleted) traveled virtually with him, trying to guess where he was. In December 2019, one of his followers asked him: “What are you doing in Cambrils? It is a municipality on the coast of Tarragona, in Catalonia, with 33,300 inhabitants ”. The employer does not respond. But shortly after, in January 2020, he himself hangs a photograph with two friends in Salou, a town near Cambrils. He assures that he travels to Catalonia frequently, where he has friends.

In March, the pandemic still surprises him in Tarragona. McAfee hangs pictures with empty supermarkets and signs in Catalan. His followers, again, put him on the map. McAfee rants about measures to contain COVID. It can also be seen on the beach, or driving through the Tarragona area. Some claim to have passed him in the supermarket. McAfee does not hide that he is in Spain, where he complains that he cannot leave. Try to travel to Germany without a mask –In her nets she hangs photos with a thong for a mask-, and they force him to return to Reus airport.

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Already in July, the National Police received notification from Interpol to arrest McAfee for tax evasion. The businessman then plays in his networks to pretend that he is in other places. Some of the images that hang have involuntary lures, such as a Bezoya brand water bottle, which places it in Spain, or a restaurant on the beach of La Pineda, in Tarragona. The police are on his trail. The information indicates that he is going to take a private flight from Reus to travel abroad. But the agents are late. McAfee flies a week earlier than they thought.

The founder of the antivirus returns to Spain again. Finally, on Saturday, October 3, police officers from the El Prat airport in Barcelona arrested him. He intended to travel to Istanbul, but jumps into the system that has an international arrest warrant pending for tax evasion. The next day, after testifying at the National Court, he entered the Brians 2 prison, in Sant Esteve de Sesrovires (Barcelona).

“The family is devastated by the loss,” says McAfee’s attorney, Javier Villalba. They are still waiting to appear in person in the cause of his death that has opened the Court of First Instance and Instruction 5 of Martorell, but he already announces that they will request a second autopsy (the conclusion of the first one is still unknown) to determine the causes of his death. The Mossos and the Department of Justice point out that it is a suicide. Prison officials found him in his cell, hanging, hours after they had informed him of the decision of the National Court to extradite him.

Villalba repeats that there was nothing, neither in his attitude nor in his comments, that made us suspect that he could commit suicide. And he insists that his extradition to the United States was not immediate. They could still appeal the court’s decision, there was a second cause on which to decide … “We are very outraged, we are going to go to the end,” he repeats, and also criticizes the fact that a person can die when he is under the guardianship of the institutions penitentiaries.

McAfee also related through Twitter his stay in prison. In your account, you can see how your interventions go through different stages. At first, he is more benevolent, and even praises the food in the prison. On October 15, 2020, warns that if they find him hanged dead (“Epstein-style,” he says, referring to the businessman accused of sexual harassment who committed suicide in the United States) is not “his fault”.

But little by little his tone darkens. When he has been locked up for three months, he assures on Twitter that if those who make the laws had to spend “a single day in prison” before drafting them, “the penalties for non-violent crimes would be drastically less severe.” Two months before being found dead in his cell, he writes: “I have been imprisoned in Catalonia for almost seven months. I don’t speak Catalan, and little Spanish, so human contact is limited. There are no distractions, there is no escape from loneliness, from emptiness, from myself. This has been the most difficult period of my life ”.




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