AmericasPorts and Logistics

British Virgin Islands’ port boss charged in cocaine smuggling sting

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is in turmoil following the arrest last week in Miami of the premier of the self-governing Caribbean archipelago in a drugs sting that also involved the territory’s port boss and his son.

US officers at Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport took Andrew Fahie, the premier of the territory and Oleanvine Maynard, director of the BVI’s ports authority, into custody on Thursday after they allegedly agreed to accept money from undercover agents posing as Mexican drug traffickers. Maynard’s son, Kadeem, was also detained.

The accused appeared in court yesterday, while authorities in London discussed bringing back direct rule in a bid to stamp out corruption in the tax haven.

Miami federal prosecutors have charged the three men with cocaine trafficking and money laundering conspiracies for agreeing to facilitate the safe passage through BVI ports of tons of Colombian cocaine headed to Miami.

According to the allegations of the criminal complaint affidavit, during March and April, Fahie, and the two Maynards, participated in a series of meetings with the purported drug trafficker to broker the deal. Fahie and Maynard would secure required licenses, shield the cocaine-filled boats while in BVI’s ports, and grease the palm of a potentially problematic government official, says the affidavit. They discussed bringing 3,000 kg of cocaine through a BVI port as a test run, followed by 3,000 kg once or twice a month for four months. Fahie and Maynard would get a percentage of the cocaine’s sales – millions of dollars, it is alleged.

Appearing in court yesterday Fahie’s lawyer argued he had diplomatic immunity as the political leader of the BVI and ought to be released.

Pretrial detention hearings in a federal magistrate court in Miami are due to get underway tomorrow.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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