British Virgin Islands Premier and Port Authority Director arrested on drug and money laundering charges in Miami
By Jamiel Lynch, CNN
The Premier of the British Virgin Islands and the territory’s ports director were arrested Thursday in Miami on charges related to drug trafficking and money laundering, according to a criminal affidavit filed in the US District Court’s Southern District of Florida.
Premier Andrew Alturo Fahie and BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Pickering Maynard were arrested at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport, the affidavit says. Maynard’s son Kadeem Stephan Maynard was also arrested, it says.
Fahie and the Maynards are being held on charges of conspiracy to import 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to launder money, the affidavit says.
CNN has been unable to determine if any of them have attorneys.
The affidavit alleges that beginning on or about October 16, 2021, a confidential source with the US Drug Enforcement Administration had several meetings with “a group of self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives … who stated that they had business ties to South Florida and the Middle East.” Those meetings took place on the Island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, the complaint alleges.
Throughout those meetings, the confidential source asked the group to help facilitate the use of Tortola as a temporary storage port for cocaine transported from Colombia by boat and destined for the United States, it says. The source’s plan would also have included laundering of the drug proceeds.
The British Virgin Islands is a British overseas territory located in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, alongside the US Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands.
According to the affidavit, the group agreed to introduce the source to senior members of the British Virgin Islands government who could offer protection, for a price. A member of the group said he would approach the head of Fahie’s security staff and set up a meeting. A group member also claimed that he “owned” Oleanvine Maynard, according to the affidavit.
Last month, the source met with both Oleanvine Maynard and her son Kadeem to iron out how the operation would work and the roles that they and Fahie would play, the affidavit says.
On April 7, 2022, the source went to Tortola and met with the Maynards, then they all met with Fahie, the affidavit says. During a long drive to the meeting, Fahie allegedly complained to the source that “the British didn’t pay him much,” the affidavit says.
The source told Fahie that he worked for people in Mexico, and they wanted use of the ports in Tortola for free passage of 3,000 kilograms of cocaine at a time. The cocaine, which would come from Colombia, would pass through the BVI, then Puerto Rico on its way to Miami and New York, the source told them, according to the affidavit.
The source proposed a percentage of the cocaine sales in the US as payment for their involvement in helping pass the drugs through the BVI ports. The payment amount offered was 12% of the expected sale price in Miami, which Fahie estimated to be more than $7.8 million. Fahie allegedly requested $500,000 upfront and an additional $83,000 he needed to pay back a debt he owed to someone in Senegal, according to the affidavit. The source also offered to fund Fahie’s re-election campaign, and asked to help choose Fahie’s eventual successor to the premiership.
The parties agreed to do a 3,000 kilogram test run, which would be followed by 3,000 kilograms coming through the island two or three times a month for the next four months, the affidavit alleges.
According to the affidavit, the parties set in motion a plan for the source to leave $700,000 in cash on a private jet at the Miami-Opa Locka airport that would be retrieved by Oleanvine Maynard and an unknown individual and flown back to the BVI. Kadeem Maynard also brokered a side deal with the source where he would receive 60 kilograms of cocaine a week to sell, the affidavit alleges. He was also responsible for making sure the jet with the $700,000 from Miami would be allowed to land in the BVI with no issues, it states.
An arrest made
On April 28, Fahie and the source went to a plane at the airport in Opa-Locka, where the source showed him $700,000 in cash that was for him and Oleanvine Maynard. The money was in designer shopping bags, the affidavit says. As Fahie exited the plane after seeing the money, he was taken into custody.
Later that morning Oleanvine Maynard was brought to the same airport and plane and showed the $700,000, the affidavit says. The source gave her $200,000 and told her that was her payment and that the rest of the money was for Fahie. He assured her the money would be packaged and hidden before the flight. As she exited the plane, she was also arrested.
The affidavit does not outline where Kadeem Maynard was arrested.
British Virgin Islands Governor John Rankin, who is the territory’s de facto head of state, announced the arrest of Fahie.
“It is my duty as Governor to inform you that this morning the Honourable Premier Fahie was detained in Miami on charges related to conspiracy to import a controlled substance and money laundering,” Rankin said in a news release.
Rankin, who is a British diplomat, was appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government. In his statement, Rankin said the US government informed the British government of the arrest, which was part of a DEA-led operation.
“I realise this will be shocking news for people in the Territory. And I would call for calm at this time,” Rankin said.
Deputy Premier Natalio Wheatley will remain Acting Premier of the Territory, he said. Wheatley was put into place as Acting Premier while Fahie was out of the country. According to a news release by his office, Fahie was in Miami for the annual SeaTrade Summit.
CNN has reached out to the British Virgin Islands government for more information.
In a statement obtained by CNN, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by the serious allegations against Fahie.
“This afternoon, the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Andrew Fahie, was arrested in the United States on charges related to drugs trafficking and money laundering,” her statement said. “I am appalled by these serious allegations.”
Truss also referenced an anti-corruption inquiry unrelated to the DEA investigation.
“This arrest demonstrates the importance of the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry. I have spoken to the Governor of the BVI and he will be holding an emergency meeting of the Territory’s Cabinet later today. He will set out next steps tomorrow, including urgent publication of the Inquiry’s report,” she added.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration said in a statement the arrest should send a “clear message” to anyone bringing drugs into the country.
“Anyone involved with bringing dangerous drugs into the United States will be held accountable, no matter their position. 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,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said.
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CNN’s Max Foster and Mary Kay Mallonee contributed to this report.