The premier of the British Virgin Islands and the director of the Caribbean territory’s ports were scheduled to appear in federal court in Miami on Friday after their arrest on drug smuggling charges in a sting set up by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
Premier Andrew Alturo Fahie and Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard were taken into custody by DEA agents at Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport and charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and launder money, according to a criminal complaint.
Maynard’s son, Kadeem Maynard, faces the same changes in the alleged scheme, according to the court filings.
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“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.”
Fahie and Oleanvine Maynard had been at the airport to meet Mexican drug traffickers, who in reality were undercover DEA agents, to see a shipment of $700,000 in cash the British territory officials expected to receive for helping smuggle cocaine from Colombia to Miami and New York, the complaint said.
A DEA confidential source had previously met with Maynard and her son after being introduced by a group of self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives, according to the complaint.
After Fahie became involved, it said, the British territory officials agreed to let the smugglers bring the cocaine through the port at Tortola before continuing on to the US.
Britain’s top diplomat said she had spoken with BVI Gov. John Rankin, who told her they would be holding an emergency meeting on Friday, and that the results of a separate investigation that was meant to focus on governance and corruption would be published urgently.
“I am appalled by these serious allegations. This arrest demonstrates the importance of the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
Rankin also released a statement clarifying that Thursday’s arrests in Miami were not connected to the Commission of Inquiry, an independent probe ordered by the governor last year to establish whether there’s evidence of corruption. That probe, which has been led by a senior judge, was not a criminal investigation into the illegal drug trade, Rankin said.
It isn’t known whether the commission had found any suspected wrongdoing by Fahie or Maynard, but Rankin said he expects to have the results published urgently to avoid unnecessary speculation.
The British Virgin Islands is a UK overseas territory of about 35,000 people east of Puerto Rico with limited self-governance under a locally elected parliamentary government.
The governor is the territory’s ultimate executive authority as the representative of Queen Elizabeth. The premier is the elected head of government.