BVI's Premier, Ports Director Arrested on Drug-Smuggling Charges

Road Town, Tortola, BVI (Corey Seeman / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Published May 1, 2022 10:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Andrew Fahie, the premier of the British Virgin Islands, has been arrested in the United States and charged with participating in a scheme to traffic thousands of kilos of cocaine through the Port of Tortola. 

In a federal court filing, U.S. agents alleged that Fahie and BVI Ports Authority director Oleanvine Maynard entered into an agreement with a "cartel member" to store and transport cocaine through Tortola, 3,000 kilos at a time. According to prosecutors, Fahie and Maynard were under the impression that they were working with Mexico's notorious Sinaloa Cartel, a leading importer of cocaine into the United States. The cartel representative was actually a U.S. informant.  

Beginning on March 20, Maynard and her son Kadeem held multiple meetings with the informant and made detailed arrangements to set up a trafficking scheme at Tortola, according to charging documents. If actualized, the drugs would have been transported onwards to Puerto Rico, then to Miami and New York. Oleanvine and Kadeem allegedly agreed to set up shell companies and apply for business licenses for a "shipping agency" as a front for the illegal activity; Kadeem told the informant that he had already been smuggling drugs for 20 years, according to charging papers. 

In a later meeting with Fahie, the informant offered an up-front bribe of $500,000 and a 12 percent cut of the sales, according to prosecutors - an amount in the range of $8 million per shipment. Fahie allegedly discussed ways to maintain the fiction of a counter-drug operation, including prearranged "busts" of low-grade drugs to throw the British government off the scent.

Fahie has faced allegations of corruption and mismanagement for years, and he was already under audit by the British government. He allegedly told the informant that he would not give away the agreement to UK law enforcement. “I have plenty of people and I don’t sell them out to the British with their plans. Their plans are to catch people, they want to capture people – but me, I see what they are doing and protect people," Fahie allegedly told the informant.

Fahie and Maynard allegedly made arrangements to accept an initial sum of $700,000, to be delivered by private jet to the BVI in late April. On April 28, U.S. undercover agents picked them up individually at a hotel in Miami and brought them to see the money in a private jet; afterwards, they were each arrested. 

The two face charges of conspiracy to import more than five kilos of cocaine into the United States. If convicted, the charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years (absent a plea deal). 

Top image: Road Town, Tortola, BVI (Corey Seeman / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)