Premier Andrew Fahie and BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard have been accused of agreeing to allow cocaine to pass through Tortola ports in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds earned from selling the drugs in the US, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday at a federal court in Miami.
Following a sting operation led by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the pair were arrested Thursday in Miami and charged with conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine.
The premier was arrested first, at the Miami-Opa Loka Executive Airport, after exiting a plane where he inspected bags filled with $700,000 in fake cash that he believed would be paid to him and Ms. Maynard, the complaint states.
“Why am I getting arrested?” he allegedly protested. “I don’t have any money or drugs.”
Ms. Maynard was arrested later after being shown the same fake money aboard the plane, according to the complaint.
Her son Kadeem Maynard, who is accused of arranging meetings between the pair and a US informant, was also arrested on the same charges, according to the DEA.
In an affidavit filed by a DEA agent, the complaint outlines the details of a cross-border DEA operation that continued for more than five months.
Starting around Oct. 16 on Tortola, a confidential source working for the DEA met several times with a group of “self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives” who claimed business ties to south Florida and the Middle East, according to the document.
The DEA source allegedly asked the group to help facilitate the use of Tortola as a “temporary storage port” for cocaine transported from Colombia to the US via boat.
“Those efforts would also include the subsequent laundering of drug proceeds,” the complaint states.
The Tortola group allegedly agreed to assist by facilitating introductions to “senior members” of the VI government who could offer protection in exchange for payment.
“A member of the Lebanese Group told the [confidential source] that he would approach the head of security for [Premier] Andrew Fahie and try to set up a meeting,” the complaint alleges, adding, “A member of the Lebanese Group also told the CS that he ‘owned’ Oleanvine Maynard, the managing director of the BVI Ports Authority.”
Later, group members told the source that Maynard had agreed to meet with the source, but she wanted a payment up front, according to the complaint.
On March 16 on Tortola, the DEA source met with Mr. Maynard, who then helped arrange a meeting with his mother on March 20 on St. Thomas, the document states, adding that both meetings were recorded.
“The CS told them that he was a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, and requested their help moving thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia through Tortola to Puerto Rico, with a destination of Miami and the New York,” the complaint states. “The CS made it clear that the CS did not wish to import the drugs to Tortola for sale, and that no cocaine would leave the container while in port.”
The source requested only safe passage for the container for 24 to 48 hours until it could be taken to Puerto Rico, the document adds.
Ms. Maynard allegedly agreed to provide licences and process the paperwork necessary to facilitate the plan.
The source explained that cocaine is produced cheaply in laboratories in Colombia and brought to Tortola for about $4,000 per kilogram, but that it would sell for $26,000 to $28,000 per kilogram in Miami and $32,000 to $38,000 in New York, according to the complaint.
“The CS offered them a percentage of everything sold in the United States, and asked how he could get the money back to them in the BVI,” the document states. “Maynard responded, ‘What we do is set up shell companies.’”
Also during the conversation, her son confirmed that they had “already developed a plan to deal with customs, and that they had determined that they had to set up a business as a shipping agent,” according to the complaint.
Ms. Maynard “explained that she had already started looking into different licences, adding, ‘You have to legitimise what you’re doing,’” the document states.
The trio also discussed the need to meet with the premier and another government official who was not named in the complaint, the document states.
According to the claim, Mr. Maynard said his mother “can go to [Mr. Fahie] at any time and he would say okay.”
Ms. Maynard allegedly added, “You see, with my premier, he’s a little crook sometimes. … He’s not always straight.”
At the end of the meeting, the source gave Ms. Maynard a bag containing $10,000 that he described as a gesture of good faith, the claim states.
Around March 22, the Maynards allegedly spoke with the DEA source by phone, saying that Mr. Fahie was very interested in the plan and would handle the ports and airports but needed an up-front payment of $500,000.
“Further, [Ms.] Maynard explained that Fahie gave her code words to use when she wanted to meet with him about this scheme,” the complaint states. “The parties then agreed to set up a meeting with Fahie for April 7, 2022.”
In another recorded phone call on March 31, the Maynards allegedly confirmed that the premier wanted to work with the source but wanted more information.
“[The Maynards] explained that Fahie was skittish because his government had been subject to an audit,” the complaint states. “Kadeem added, however, that he had incriminating information on Fahie.”
Phone call with premier
On April 1, the source allegedly spoke on the phone with the Maynards and the premier in another recorded call.
“Fahie explained that he had to be cautious to make sure the CS wasn’t law enforcement,” the complaint states. “He told the CS, ‘It took me 20 years to get here, and I don’t want to leave in 20 minutes.’”
Then they allegedly agreed to meet on April 7. That day, the complaint states, the source arrived on Tortola and met first with the Maynards.
“They told the CS that they would be picked up and driven to a meeting with Fahie,” the complaint states. “A vehicle arrived at their location and picked up [Ms.] Maynard and the CS; Fahie was in the passenger seat. Kadeem rode in a separate vehicle.”
After a drive that lasted more than an hour, the vehicle arrived at a “large, very nice stone house,” the complaint states, adding that the source went inside with the premier and Ms. Maynard, while Mr. Maynard and others served as security outside.
In the meeting, the source allegedly asked to use Tortola ports for free passage of 3,000 kilograms of cocaine at a time.
The drugs, he said, would come from Colombia to the VI before being taken to Puerto Rico, then on to Miami and New York, the complaint states.
“The cocaine would be packaged in construction material, in five-kilogram buckets of waterproofing paint,” according to the document. “That material would not test positive for cocaine, but the cocaine would later be extracted over the course of four days in either Puerto Rico or Miami.”
The source then proposed paying Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard a percentage of the cocaine sales, according to the complaint.
“He asked Fahie what percent he’d want, and Fahie deferred to the CS regarding the appropriate percentage,” the document states, adding that the source then offered 12 percent for the premier and Ms. Maynard. “Fahie pulled out a calculator and ran 3,000 kilos times $26,000 (Miami price per kilo). The total was $78 million. Fahie then calculated that 10 percent of $78 million would be $7.8 million.”
The premier then agreed to allow Tortola ports to be used for the shipments, the complaint states, adding that he requested $500,000 up front for their efforts.
Mr. Fahie also allegedly agreed to a 3,000-kilogram test run followed by four months of loads two or three times a month, the complaint states, adding that a multi-month break would follow.
The source also proposed organising seizures of “bad” drugs and money to create the appearance that the premier was fighting drug trafficking, according to the document.
“[Mr.] Fahie laughed and said the CS had thought of everything,” the complaint states.
At one point in the conversation, the premier allegedly asked the source if he was an undercover official, and the source assured him that he was not.
“As part of that response, the CS explained to Fahie, ‘Well, first of all, you’re not touching anything,’” the complaint states. “[Mr.] Fahie replied, ‘I will touch one thing: the money.’”
Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Fahie asked Ms. Maynard to leave the room, and then he told the DEA source he needed $83,000 in cash to repay a debt he owed someone in Senegal, according to the complaint.
The source agreed to help with that payment as well, and they allegedly planned to meet in Miami on April 27.
“The CS would leave the $700,000 cash on a private jet at Opa Locka airport that would be retrieved by Maynard and an unknown individual on April 28, 2022, to be flown back to BVI; and Fahie would fly to join the CS in St. Martin on May 2, 2022, where they would meet the man from Senegal and pay back the debt on behalf of Fahie,” the complaint states.
Also at the April 7 meeting, the source allegedly provided Mr. Fahie with $20,000 in cash as a “good faith gift.”
After the meeting, the source stayed in communication with Mr. Maynard regarding a side deal that would see him receiving 60 kilograms of cocaine each week, the complaint states.
“Further, they coordinated the arrival of the private jet with the $700,000 from Miami to the BVI,” the document adds. “Kadeem had control of officials at the airport and confirmed that they would allow the plane to land.”
On April 27, the complaint states, Ms. Maynard met with the source and a DEA undercover officer in a Miami hotel to discuss their arrangements.
Later that evening, the three allegedly met Mr. Fahie at the same hotel along with another woman who was not named in the complaint.
Once in a conference room Ms. Maynard had rented, Mr. Fahie asked the women to leave so that he was alone with the undercover officer and the DEA source.
“Fahie asked the CS to start with a prayer, and then immediately began to speak about the money that he needed to pay the man from Senegal during their upcoming meeting in St. Martin,” the complaint states.
The source then asked the premier why the man owed him money, according to the document.
“Fahie replied that he had known him for years, and that the man had ‘fixed’ some political issues for him,” the complaint states. “The money was payment for ‘fixing’ those political issues.”
As the meeting wound down, the source asked Mr. Fahie to breakfast the next morning, but Mr. Fahie said he had an early flight to Philadelphia, according to the document.
The source then offered him a flight aboard a private plane, and the premier allegedly agreed.
The next morning, the source and the undercover officer picked up Mr. Fahie at his residence in South Florida to take him to the airport, according to the complaint.
At the airport, the source took Mr. Fahie into an airplane, showing him designer shopping bags containing $700,000 in fake money that he said was for Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard.
“The [undercover officer] explained that the money would be packaged in a suitcase like Fahie had requested, but they wanted him to see it first in person to confirm it was paid,” the complaint states. “Shortly thereafter, the parties exited the plane, and Fahie was subsequently arrested.”
Later that morning, Ms. Maynard was taken aboard the same plane and shown the fake money, according to the complaint.
As she exited the plane, she was arrested, the document states.
In the VI
On Thursday evening, Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, who has been acting as premier since Mr. Fahie left for a cruise conference in Miami on Monday, delivered a short statement via Facebook.
He said he had met with Governor John Rankin, and that Cabinet had held an emergency meeting earlier Thursday evening in advance of more meetings Friday with VI and UK officials.
“I cannot comment further on the arrest as it is an active investigation, but I urge calm and patience. Regarding the Commission of Inquiry report, the governor has informed Cabinet that he will be publishing the report very soon in light of today’s events,” Dr Wheatley said. “There is no doubt that people will seek to read the report and view it in the context of the recent arrest. However, as the governor has said, the two are not connected. I urge the public to read the report with an objective eye in terms of strengthening our systems of government under a democratic framework of governance as opposed to draconian measures that would set back the historical constitutional progress we have made as a people.”
Liz Truss, the British foreign secretary, said she was “appalled” by the “serious allegations” against Mr. Fahie.
“This arrest demonstrates the importance of the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry,” she said, adding that the governor would “set out next steps” on Friday, “including urgent publication of the inquiry’s report.”
A press conference with the governor was scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.
Attempts to reach Government Communications Director Arliene Penn and Premier’s Office officials were unsuccessful.