US: Prime Minister of the Virgin Islands accused of trafficking cocaine

US: Prime Minister of the Virgin Islands accused of trafficking cocaine

MIAMI — 

The prime minister of the British Virgin Islands appeared in federal court in Miami on Friday after his arrest on charges of trafficking cocaine, while the British governor of the Caribbean territory announced that a corruption investigation found ample reasons to suspend the archipelago’s elected government. .

Following the arrest of Prime Minister Andrew Alturo Fahie, 51, in Florida, British Virgin Islands Governor John Rankin, a British government appointee, released an incriminating report Friday from an investigation into corruption allegations. .

The dramatic events cast doubt on the immediate future of this British Overseas Territory. The archipelago, inhabited by 35,000 people, is currently governed by a 2007 constitution that gives it limited self-government, with a governor who is the highest executive authority in his capacity as a representative of Queen Elizabeth II.

Fahie was arrested Thursday at a Miami-area airport along with the territory’s director of ports, Oleanvine Maynard, in a DEA operation. Maynard’s son, Kadeem Maynard, faces the same charges. He was arrested on the island of Santo Tomas.

According to a criminal complaint, Fahie and Maynard were at the airport to meet with Mexican drug traffickers, who were actually undercover DEA agents.

A confidential source from the counternarcotics agency had previously met with Maynard and his son after they were introduced by a group of operatives claiming to be from Lebanese Hezbollah, according to the complaint. They began making plans to move the cocaine through the port on the island of Tortola, and both discussed involving Fahie.

A meeting was called on the day of the arrest to view a $700,000 cash shipment that British territory officials hoped to receive to help smuggle cocaine from Colombia to Miami and New York, the complaint states. The money was fake.

In a hearing Friday via Zoom, Assistant United States Attorney Frederic Shadley asked Coroning Judge Jonathan Goodman to hold Fahie and Maynard until their trial.

Fahie, who was wearing a tan prison uniform, did not speak other than to give his name and date of birth and agree to the hearing being held online. A bond hearing has been set for next Wednesday.

Fahie’s attorney, Theresa Van Vliet, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Speaking at a news conference in Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, Rankin said the arrests prompted him to release — ahead of schedule — the report of an investigative commission that began work in January 2021 after emerging allegations of widespread government fraud.

Rankin said the head of the inquiry had recommended suspending the territory’s constitution and locally elected parliamentary government for at least two years, but a decision on that would be made in consultation with British officials.

Ben Oakley
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