British Virgin Islands prime minister arrested on drug smuggling charges in US 2022-04-28 20:22:49

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The British Virgin Islands’ prime minister was arrested, Thursday, in the Miami area on charges of drug smuggling and money laundering, authorities said.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the US Southern District of Florida, Andrew Fahey, the elected head of government for the small district of about 30,000, demanded a $500,000 advance payment to allow cocaine to pass through the territory on its way to Miami and New York. He was charged with conspiracy to import at least five kilograms of cocaine mixture and conspiracy to launder money.

According to the complaint, the territory’s port manager, Olinvin Pickering Maynard, and her son, Cadim Stefan Maynard, also face the charges.

A man who presented himself as working for the Sinaloa Cartel, but was a confidential source to federal authorities, met with Ms. Maynard on March 20, according to the complaint.

The man told Ms. Maynard he needed help transporting thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia via Tortola, which is in the British Virgin Islands, according to the document. Ms. Maynard agreed to help, and said Mr. Fahey would also be open to such an arrangement, according to the complaint.

On April 7, the confidential source met Mr. Fahey, who requested an advance payment to start the process and said Ms. Maynard could provide the licenses needed to sneak cocaine through the ports, according to the complaint. The source then gave Mr. Fahey $20,000 and said, “This is a gift of goodwill, to make a deal between us,” according to the document.

The source also suggested that the authorities could organize seizures of drugs and bad money by Mr. Fahey in the area to get rid of suspicion and make it appear as if he was fighting drug smuggling, the document said.

“Fahey laughed and said CS had thought of everything,” the document said, referring to the confidential source.

Mr. Fahey, Ms. Maynard and Mr. Maynard could not be immediately reached and it was not clear who their lawyers were.

In a statement Thursday, DEA Director Ann Milgram said the arrests “should send a clear message.”

“Anyone involved in bringing dangerous drugs into the United States will be held accountable, regardless of their position,” she said. “Today is yet another example of the DEA’s determination to hold corrupt members of the government accountable for using their positions of power to provide a safe haven for drug traffickers and money launderers for their financial and political gain.”

In an earlier statement on Thursday, Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, said she had spoken with the governor of the British Virgin Islands and that he would hold an emergency meeting on the matter.

“I am appalled by these serious allegations,” she said. “This arrest demonstrates the importance of the investigation committee that was recently completed.”

Ms Truss was referring to an independent investigation by the Territory’s Governor, John Rankin, which began in January 2021 with the aim of reviewing the Territory’s governance and making recommendations for improvement.

The purpose of the ongoing investigation “is to establish whether there has been evidence of corruption, abuse of office, or other serious deception that has occurred in public office in recent years and, if so, what circumstances allowed this to occur,” According to the British government.

Officials said the investigation was “initiated in part in response to broad public concerns.”

Katie Benner Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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