British Virgin Islands Premier Charged With Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering

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British Virgin Islands
Courtesy of ndlon (Flickr CC0)

British Virgin Islands premier Andrew Fahie, 51, was arrested by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials in Florida last week as he prepared to board a private jet. He was apprehended for drug trafficking and money laundering.

He has insisted on quick release from U.S. custody, disputing he is immune from prosecution on cocaine-smuggling charges because he is the head of British overseas territory. His attorney filed a complaint with Miami federal court on Monday.

In her two-page filing, Fahie’s attorney did not comment or give details about his client’s immunity claim.

Miami former federal prosecutor Dick Gregorie said:

Diplomatic immunity doesn’t protect you if you’re on your private boondoggle.

A complaint filed in the U.S. Southern District of Florida demanded an upfront fee of $500,000 to let cocaine slide through the territory to Miami and New York. He was apprehended with a plot to import five kilograms of a cocaine mixture and conspiracy to launder money.
Fahie claimed he traveled to Miami to attend a conference for the cruise industry and appointed a deputy on his behalf.

On a criminal complaint, Fahie and his ports director, Oleanvine Maynard, were at the airport supposedly to meet with a Mexican drug trafficker, but he was an undercover DEA agent. Maynard refers to Fahie as someone who would not waver a plan to move large amounts of cocaine with the aid of Lebanese Hezbollah operatives through the Caribbean island.

British Virgin Islands
Courtesy of vjkombajn (Pixabay CC0)

According to the complaint, a man who presented himself as working for the Sinaloa Cartel who met with Ms. Maynard on March 20, 2022, was a confidential source for the federal authorities. Oleanvine Pickering Maynard and Kadeem Stephan Maynard will also face those charges.

The complaint reads that Ms. Maynard spoke to a man needing assistance transporting thousands of cocaine through Tortola, the British Virgin Islands, from Colombia. Ms. Maynard consented to help and stated that Mr. Fahie is open-minded to such an agreement.

Widespread Corruption

The surprise arrest disturbed the British Virgin Islands, where Fahie allegedly faced widespread corruption and appeared to reinforce the call to suspend the constitution for two years to clean out the administration and return the government to London officials.

In the 1980s, the Turks and Caicos prime minister, another British colony, exhibited on drug charges, and Gen Manuel Noriega, the then Panamanian strongman.

Still, prosecutions of foreign officials are rare, and going after the Caribbean island’s top elected official would undoubtedly have been greenlit at the highest levels of the US justice department and state department, given the potential impact.

Governor John Rankin, the Queen’s representative to the islands, said the legal action nudged him to release the results of widespread government fraud.

The review was undertaken in January 2021 and was not linked to Fahie’s charges or his prior arrest.

Mr. Rankin’s investigation concluded that Fahie spent millions of dollars on projects linked to his allies, abandoned or found to be of no public benefit. He said:

Some of them were, on their face, false, and unless the most urgent and drastic steps are taken, the current situation with elected officials deliberately ignoring the tenets of good governance will go on indefinitely.

It also urged that any new executive appointment last two years but that the ministerial administration resumes “as soon as practicable.” If London abides by the recommendation, Mr. Rankin, a career British diplomat, will assume the day-to-day running of the British Virgin Islands.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas

Sources:
The New York Times: Premier of British Virgin Islands Arrested on Drug Trafficking Charges in U.S. By Vimal Patel
Sky News: British Virgin Islands premier Andrew Fahie claims immunity in cocaine trafficking case

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of ndlon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of vjkombajn’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License

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