British Virgin Islands PM arrested on cocaine smuggling charges and money laundering – POLITICO

The Prime Minister of the British Virgin Islands, Andrew Fahie, was arrested Thursday on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and money laundering after a successful covert operation led by US authorities.

Fahie, the head of government-elect for the British Overseas Territory, was arrested in Miami after agreeing to allow agents posing as drug smugglers access to British Virgin Islands ports for $700,000.

In response to the arrest, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said called She was “horrified by these serious allegations”.

The overseas territory, a collection of around 60 islands that are home to around 30,000 people, is largely self-governing. The UK continues to oversee its defense and foreign policy – as well as some domestic policies, including internal security – through the UK government-appointed governor. The Prime Minister, elected by the territory’s House of Assembly, oversees most other policy decisions and heads a small cabinet.

court records showed that US Drug Enforcement Agency officials, posing as members of Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa cartel – formerly run by imprisoned drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, known as El Chapo – agreed with Fahie to hide Colombian cocaine in 5-kilogram buckets of paint to be stored in the territory of the British Virgin Islands shortly before shipment for sale in the United States

Oleanvine Maynard, the overseas territory’s chief port officer, and her son Kadeem Maynard were also arrested in the covert operation. The investigation was launched following a report from a confidential informant in October last year, According to the DEA complaint, media reported.

Overseas Governor John Rankin convened an emergency cabinet meeting in the territory late Thursday, and said Deputy Prime Minister Natalio Wheatley would remain acting Prime Minister. Rankin argued he would now “urge urgently” on the release of the corruption probe.

“I realize this will be shocking news for people in the territory,” he said called in an opinion. “I would call for silence at this time.”

The government of the British Virgin Islands has already been investigated by the British government for organized crime, corruption, misuse of public funds and nepotism. In 2021, the UK set up a commission of inquiry into allegations of mismanagement.

At the time, Fahie denied the government’s involvement in such activities, telling POLITICO they were “irresponsible”. “The investigation has engaged the entire civil service,” he added. “And so far there hasn’t been any evidence of corruption on the BVI.”

The Commission too created controversy after it was found that former UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was doing private legal work alongside his parliamentary duties to advise Fahie on the inquiry.

The investigation came to an end earlier this monthalthough its results are not yet public. British Virgin Islands PM arrested on cocaine smuggling charges and money laundering - POLITICO

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