MIAMI, Florida, April 28, 2022 -United States Drug Enforcement Agents arrested British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie on drug trafficking and money laundering charges Thursday after he, along with BVI port director Oleanvine Maynard, went to a Miami airport to check on a huge cash payment that was promised them by a DEA undercover agent pretending to be a Mexican cartel member.
Governor John Rankin of the British Virgin Islands, confirmed in a statement that Andrew Fahie was arrested Thursday in Miami and that the U.S. government has informed Britain of the detention of one of its citizens.
Managing director of BVI Ports Oleanvine Maynard and her son Kadeem Maynard were also arrested and face the same charges.
The sting operation began last fall with a series of surreptitious meetings between an undercover DEA agent posing as the Mexican drug smuggler and a group claiming to be Lebanese Hezbollah operatives with connections to the Caribbean territory’s leaders, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in the case.
With their help, the U.S. informant eventually met up with BVI’s premier, Fahie, the port director, Maynard, and her son, Kadeem Maynard, to lure them into providing protection for purported Colombian cocaine shipments through the British Virgin Islands to Miami, U.S. authorities say.
In return, the U.S. informant, who claimed to be working for the Sinaloa cartel, promised to pay the premier and port director $700,000 at first and millions later on as their cut of the planned cocaine shipments.
These meetings were all recorded in the British Virgin Islands and Miami in March and April, according to the documents filed in Miami federal court.
On Thursday, the BVI premier and port director Maynard, went to Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport to check out the purported $700,000 cash payment on an airplane that they believed was destined for the British Virgin Islands. But they were arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents,who were awaiting their arrival, the affidavit said.
According to the 15-page DEA affidavit, when he was taken into custody, Fahie confirmed his identity but then asked: “Why am I getting arrested? I don’t have any money or drugs.”
Both foreign officials, who were in Miami for a cruise convention, went to the Opa-locka airport Thursday morning after the DEA informant and another undercover operative told them that it was time for their initial payoff, according to the affidavit filed by federal prosecutor Frederic Shadley.
South Florida defense attorney Richard Della Fera who was contacted by Fahie’s family, said that it was premature for him to comment about the case.
Both Fahie and Maynard, who are being held at the Federal Detention Center, are scheduled to have their first appearances in Miami federal court on Friday afternoon.
The son of BVI’s port director, Kadeem Maynard, was also arrested in connection with the undercover DEA case, but not in Miami. All three defendants are charged with conspiring to import more than five kilos of cocaine into the United States and conspiring to commit money laundering.
The DEA in Washington, D.C., issued a statement condemning the BVI officials’ alleged wrongdoing while highlighting the agency’s “resolve to hold corrupt members of government responsible for using their positions of power to provide a safe haven for drug traffickers and money launderers in exchange for their own financial and political gain.”
In response to the arrests of the premier and the others, BVI Gov. John Rankin issued a statement saying the U.S. government informed United Kingdom officials of the drug-trafficking case in Miami. He called it “shocking news.”
“As this is a live investigation I have no further information on the arrest nor can I comment any further on it,” said Rankin, who was appointed BVI’s governor by the United Kingdom.
UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said she was “appalled by these serious allegations” against the leader of the ruling Virgin Islands Party.
She said Rankin would be holding an emergency meeting to “set out next steps”.
One of the next steps would be to urgently publish the report of the Commission of Inquiry that has looked into how the British overseas territory in the Caribbean is governed, Ms Truss said.
“This arrest demonstrates the importance of the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry,” she added.