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Premier of British Virgin Islands arrested on drug trafficking charges in US sting operation

Andrew Fahie and the BVI’s chief port official were arrested at a Miami-area airport yesterday.

Andrew Fahie.
Andrew Fahie.

The UK Government said it was “appalled” after the British Virgin Islands leader was arrested in the United States to face charges over alleged drugs trafficking and money laundering.

Premier Andrew Fahie and the BVI’s chief port official were arrested at a Miami-area airport after a sting operation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

“I am appalled by these serious allegations,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement last night.

She said the arrests underlined the need to release a recently concluded investigation into alleged corruption and abuse of office under the Fahie government.

The probe began in January 2021 and was overseen by British Virgin Islands governor John Rankin. Truss said Rankin would set out next steps today, “including urgent publication of the inquiry’s report”.

Rankin, an appointee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on advice from the UK government, urged calm in the islands after the “shocking news” of Fahie’s detention.

The self-governing Caribbean archipelago is home to some 35,000 people and is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, which supervises its defence and foreign policy.

It is one of the world’s leading offshore tax havens. Both the local government and London have been accused by anti-corruption campaigners of turning a blind eye to illicit flows of foreign money.

DEA agents at the Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport took Fahie and BVI Port Authority managing director Oleanvine Maynard into custody after they allegedly agreed to accept money from undercover agents posing as Mexican drug traffickers, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.

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Fahie and Maynard were to inspect a plane carrying $700,000 that they would receive in exchange for facilitating cocaine shipments through the territory, reported the Herald, citing US authorities.

The officials’ arrests “should send a clear message”, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.

“Anyone involved with bringing dangerous drugs into the United States will be held accountable, no matter their position.”

Court documents filed yesterday showed Fahie, Maynard and Maynard’s son were all charged with “conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine” and “conspiracy to launder money”.

© AFP 2022

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