The Raid on Dotcom's Compound: All the Odd Details

Before seizing nearly $9 million in cash and 18 luxury cars -- including a 1959 pink Cadillac -- police found Megaupload's founder, Kim Dotcom, hiding in a panic room with a sawed off shotgun.

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Before seizing nearly $9 million in cash and 18 luxury cars -- including a 1959 pink Cadillac -- police found Megaupload's founder, Kim Dotcom, hiding in a panic room with a sawed off shotgun. Dotcom has been in jail since, and on Monday, a judge ordered him to stay there until Wednesday, when a final ruling on his bail request is due to be made. In the meantime, everyone is gawking at not only at Dotcom's lavish house and lifestyle but also the commando raid that it took to bring him into custody.

The Raid

It all started on January 20, the night before Dotcom was supposed to turn 38. Police must've anticipated resistance, because they flew a helicopter to the raid. We don't yet know all of the specifics of the officers who took Dotcom into custody, but in our mental reenactment of the event, there are three Blackhawks, each filled with six SEAL-type soldiers, faces painted black, nightvision goggles on, guns loaded and ready. Again, it's unclear if this is the case. What we do know is that after they landed, Dotcom fled into his house and activated electronic locks. To borrow an account from Bloomberg's report on the raid, police then "neutralized locks and cut their way into a safe room, where Dotcom was found with what looked like a sawed-off shotgun." Detective Inspector Grant Wormald said in a statement, "It was definitely not as simple as knocking at the front door." Since Dotcom stands six and a half feet tall and weighs nearly 300 pounds, we doubt it easy to carry him out.

The House

Dotcom had been living in New Zealand at least since 2009, when he and his family leased the sprawling 20-hectacre compound in the hills outside of Auckland that police stormed last Thursday. The next task for police involved taking inventory of the house and Dotcom's many expensive things. Dotcom and Mona spent over $3 million renovating the house -- part of which presumable went to pay for the panic room that police had to "cut" Dotcom out of when they arrested him. In addition to the cash and the cars, police found lots of toys:
  • seven 60-inch televisions
  • 60 computer servers
  • a 108-inch LCD screen
  • a graffitied portait of the couple in their bedroom
  • a helicopter of his own, apparently

It's unclear if he'd planned to throw himself a birthday fête, but based on the millionaire's lavish lifestyle and tendency to party, we'd guess that he did. Just this past New Year's, Dotcom spent a stunning $500,000 to put on a fireworks display that he and his wife Mona reportedly watched from inside a private helicopter.

Dotcom's criminal history

Dotcom was born as Kim Schmitz in Kiel, Germany. "As a child, he made copies of computer games to sell to his friends, and in the early days of the Internet, began hacking into computers via telephones, according to reputed German daily Die Welt," reads a Reuters report on Dotcom's youth. "Schmitz has made no secret of his controversial past as a cyber-raider, hacking into computer networks at NASA, the Pentagon and at least one major bank." Eventually Dotcom fled to Thailand, where he continued to commit crimes and in 2002, the then -28-year-old hacker was deported back to Germany where he was convicted in one of the largest insider-trading cases in German history. Though he was sentenced to 20-months probation and ordered to pay a €100,000 fine, it appears that Dotcom kept breaking the law. And so it's not surprising that he built some security features into his mansion. The FBI estimates that Dotcom made about $115,000 a day on MegaUpload and the rest of his shady business empire. It's unclear what the United States judge will determine for a bail price, but based on everything we know about Dotcom's budget, we bet it'll be big.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.