The elected leader of the British Virgin Islands was arrested on alleged money laundering and drug trafficking charges during a sting operation at a Miami airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has revealed.
Premier Andrew Fahie, 51, was taken into custody along with Oleanvine Maynard, the managing director of the British overseas territory’s ports, after meeting with a DEA informant posing as a member of the Sinaloa Cartel at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport on Thursday.
The DEA complaint, which included confidential testimony from the informant, indicated that Fahie had agreed to allow the Mexican transnational drug trafficking organization to use the Caribbean island’s ports to ship cocaine in return for a payment of $500,000.
Federal agents swarmed Fahie after he was shown designer shopping bags filled with $700,000 for him and Maynard, the complaint said.
The arrest of Fahie, who was elected in February 2019, was first disclosed by British Virgin Islands Governor John Rankin.
‘I realize this will be shocking news for people in the Territory,’ Rankin said in a statement. ‘And I would call for calm at this time.’
Fahie could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could officials from the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority.
‘Anyone involved with bringing dangerous drugs into the United States will be held accountable, no matter their position,’ DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.
‘Today is yet another example of DEA’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.’
The DEA began investigating Fahie in October after he met with the informant, according to the criminal complaint.
The DEA informant had previously met with Maynard and her son, Kadeem Maynard, after being introduced by a group of self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives, the complaint said.
Fahie then got involved and agreed to let the smugglers bring the cocaine through the port at Tortola island before continuing on to the U.S.
According to the complaint, thousands of kilograms would arrive from Colombia to Tortola island. The drugs would eventually be trafficked to Puerto Rico and then shipped to New York and Miami.
‘Fahie agreed to allow the confidential source to use the ports to ship his cocaine,’ according to the complaint, adding that he requested a $500,000 upfront payment in return.
The British Virgin Islands premier also requested help in paying down an $83,000 debt to a man in Senegal who had ‘fixed’ some political issues for him, the complaint said.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement she was ‘appalled’ by the allegations.
Fahie’s arrest, she said, demonstrated the importance of a recently concluded Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption and abuse of office on the islands. The commission’s report has not yet been published.
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SOURCE: Reuters / Daily Mail