BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS- Federal officials said Andrew Alturo Fahie, the Head of the British Virgin Islands, and Oleanvine Maynard, the Managing Director of the Caribbean Territory’s Port Authority, were arrested in a sting operation Thursday in South Florida on drug trafficking charges.
An official complaint states that US Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested Premier Fahie and Managing Director Maynard at Miami-Opa-Loca Executive Airport, charging them with conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to launder money. Maynard’s son, Kadim Maynard, has also been dealt similar charges to the alleged plan.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement, “Anyone involved in bringing dangerous drugs into the United States will be held accountable, regardless of their status.”
Asserting that “Today is yet another day of the DEA’s resolution to hold corrupt members of government accountable for using their positions to provide a safe haven for drug traffickers and money launderers in exchange for their own financial and political gains.”
The complaint states that Fahie and Oleanvine Maynard were at the airport to meet with Mexican drug smugglers, who were undercover DEA agents, to see a consignment of $700,000 in cash to help BVI officers smuggle cocaine from Colombia to Miami and New York where it was expected to be received.
DEA confidential source had met with Maynard and his son previously after they were introduced by a group of self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives, according to the complaint. As a result of Fahie’s involvement, BVI officials allowed smugglers to bring cocaine through the port of Tortola before heading to the US.
In a statement, BVI governor John Rankin confirmed Andrew Fahie’s arrest, saying: “I realise this will be shocking news for people in the territory.” And I would call for calm at this time.”
Confirming that “the arrest was a US operation led by the DEA and is not linked to the Commission of Inquiry report.”
“The remit of the Commission of Inquiry focused on governance and corruption, and was not a criminal investigation into the illegal drug trade.”
While Rankin does not know whether the commission’s investigation found any suspected wrongdoing by Fahie or Maynard, he said he expects the findings to be released immediately to avoid unnecessary speculation.
Rankin said he would speak to Minister Milling and Acting Premier Honourable Natalio Wheatley on Friday to discuss further engagement between the UK and the BVI on this urgent issue.
The British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said she was “appalled” by the arrest.
In a statement, Truss said: “The premier of the British Virgin Islands, Andrew Fahie, was arrested in the United States for drug trafficking and money laundering.
“I am appalled by these serious allegations.”
As a result of her meeting with Rankin, she stressed the importance of the recent inquiry into corruption in the Caribbean archipelago.
Last year, the UK set up a commission of inquiry into misgovernance in the British overseas territory, which has heard allegations of systemic corruption, cronyism, jury intimidation,and misuse of public funds.
Addressing the commission of inquiry last year, Fahie denied that there was any corruption in the BVI.
He said: “The key to any country is its reputation, but so far, and thank God for that, there is no evidence provided in the CoIshowing that the BVI is corrupt.”
In the Caribbean Sea, east of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands have a population of approximately 35,000 people.
Governors of territories are appointed by the queen, the final executive authority of the territory. The premier is the highest elected official in the government and is chosen at a general election along with other members of the ruling party.