The premier of the British Virgin Islands was arrested at a Miami airport on charges of agreeing to accept large payoffs to protect cocaine smuggling shipments to the U.S., the Miami Herald reports. Andrew Alturo Fahie and the Caribbean territory's port director, Oleanvine Maynard, were nabbed while allegedly going to check on a $700,000 cash payment that was promised them by an undercover operative posing as a Mexican drug cartel member. The allegations were disclosed in a Drug Enforcement Administration affidavit based on an sting operation that began last fall.
Corruption in the small islands of the Caribbean, which became a major drug transshipment point for U.S.-bound cocaine shipments in the 1980s, has always been a concern for the U.S. government. In recent years, U.S. officials have been helping the U.K. government in its investigation of money laundering allegations in the self-governed, dependent British territories in the Caribbean. The DEA affidavit details the story the agency's informant told the BVI officials about the critical role of the British territory in the Mexican cartel's supposed drug smuggling operation. At recorded meetings over the past two months, the informant was said to have made a $20,000 "good faith gift" toward the initial $700,000 payment, which itself was supposed to be the first of many payoffs if test shipments of drugs made it safely to the U.S. mainland. The DEA in Washington, D.C., issued a statement condemning the BVI officials’ alleged wrongdoing while highlighting the agency’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.” The men have not yet had an opportunity to hire lawyers or answer the charges.