Bathed in the sunlight of Mexico’s dry season, his dreadlocks tumbling down his back, a man who went by the name “John Galton,” an apparent nod to the hero of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged," observed almost two years ago, “There’s pockets of freedom all over the world if you’re willing to live in freedom.”
Galton paid a high price for that freedom. He was gunned down Friday by a band of men who stormed his home in Acapulco, where he and his girlfriend had found safe haven from drug charges in the United States, as they explained in a March 2017 video interview with the conspiracy site Press for Truth.
Joining a community of like-minded expatriates, Galton had sought to build a life as a self-made man. He advocated drug liberalization and taught classes on cryptocurrencies. He was set to be featured in a documentary called “Stateless.”
He envisioned himself as a prophet of American entrepreneurship — but freed from the constraints of the American nation-state.
“Go for what you want to do," he suggested to Americans considering a similar move. "If you think it’s not possible, maybe you’re doing it in the wrong place.”
As for the locals, “They don’t seem to mind us living here. We’ve lived here a year with no issues."
His girlfriend, Lily Forester, nodded. Defending the once-glamorous Pacific Coast city now considered Mexico’s “murder capital,” she said, “It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve experienced in the States.”
On Friday, she was left pleading for help after the rampage left her boyfriend dead and another man, Jason Henza, injured.
“If somebody’s listening, please, I just — somebody showed up right after we finished eating, and they shot John and Henza, and I was in the house, and John’s dead at the gate,” Forester wailed in video she posted on social media. She begged, “Somebody please come.”
Henza, 43, also recorded his anguished reactions to the attack. Appearing in a bloodied T-shirt, he stared into the camera and in a state of eerie resignation. “We were attacked," he reported. "I’ve been shot three times. I’m not doing so good.”
“Hopes and prayers, and all that stuff,” he added, speculating, “I think it’s backlash.”
Guerrero State police said in a statement Saturday that the survivors reported armed men showing up at a “cannabis greenhouse" and targeting Galton. The attorney’s office, which confirmed that Galton had been killed, said in a statement Sunday that it had found a marijuana laboratory on the premises, including white lights and gas tanks. No suspects had been named, and a motive for the killing remained unknown.
An email to the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs wasn’t immediately returned. The Associated Press reported that Galton was in his 20s and that Forester is, too.
In a statement to CoinSpice, a cryptocurrency news site, Forester said, “I will release a statement when it is safe for me to do so. The news is wrong, but I have to wait to tell my story.”
Speaking to Dan Dicks of Press for Truth in the spring of 2017, the couple said that they had been in Mexico for about a year, and that they had fled a potential 25-year prison sentence related to marijuana. They said they spent the equivalent of $300 a month, in addition to utilities, for their hideout in Vista Hermosa, which they described as a “developing neighborhood” on the edge of the city.
“We didn’t hurt anybody, so we’re just going where we’re valued,” Galton said.
Interviewed last year for a crypto-anarchist show called the Vonu Podcast, whose host labeled the couple “self-liberators,” each described their path to anarchism.
Raised by “hippie parents” who were anti-government but simultaneously dependent on food stamps, Forester said she became interested in politics in college. She realized politics “weren’t changing anything,” however, so she dropped out and “one thing led to another.”
Galton said that he had always had libertarian leanings, but that his anti-state philosophy grew sharper during the several months he spent in prison, although he claimed that he had never committed a crime. His lawyer gave him several books that put him on a “fast track toward anarchy,” he said, including Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
The couple began using cryptocurrencies toward the end of 2011 and decided to “de-bank” in 2012, they said. Attempting to live off the grid — with only a “cheap smartphone" and the “occasional Google search” — they bounced around the Midwest.
In Detroit, where they experimented with gardening and tried to fight government land seizures, they ran afoul of drug laws nearly three years ago, they said. “We were just trying to live in peace with our use of the cannabis plant," Forester said. "We had the wrong things on us at the wrong time.”
They were charged with five felonies, Galton said, and faced the possibility of more than 25 years in prison.
That’s when they fled, heading first to California and then to Mexico. “Neither of us could afford to pay all of the money to bribe the judges,” Forester said. “Our only defense was to leave.”
They crossed the border with $50 in cash. Once in Acapulco, they found odd jobs in the tourism industry, while also amassing followings on Steemit, a blogging and social networking site. Forester built a business blowing glass into pipes. Among their projects were organizing “Meat Ups,” which advocated a carnivorous diet, and creating “an uncensorable Wikipedia.”
They were founders of Anarchaforko, an anarchist conference and spinoff of the more well-known Anarchapulco, which brings 3,000 people to Acapulco each year for discussions about ways to “live unchained.” Both were to take place this month.
A participant in last year’s events mourned Galton’s death — suggesting that he had been targeted by cartels because he was competing with them — but said he was not afraid to return to the resort town in the state of Guerrero, which had a homicide rate in 2017 of 64.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, more than twice that of Chicago.
“You gotta have common sense about it, but I’d say it’s safer than any big city I’ve lived in in the U.S., like way safer than Chicago or something like that,” Galton said in the March 2017 interview, titled “John and Lily on the Run.”
Asked by Press for Truth whether there had been any contact from American authorities, Galton said, “We’re sure they know, like at this point, we’re trying to call out the corruption of the system."
“We don’t dislike America or anybody like that,” he said, explaining that his objection was rather to “statism.” He averred, “Taxation is theft.”
“And this is how they affect real people’s lives,” Forester said.