The United States’ criminal complaint against former premier Andrew Fahie painted a disturbing picture of an international drug trade that flourished in the Virgin Islands with the help of bad actors from the top down.
VI police and Governor John Rankin, who is responsible for security, must explain what went wrong and reassure the public that they have both the capacity and a clear plan to stamp out this nefarious activity.
Even before Mr. Fahie’s arrest last month, it was clear that drugs and corruption were getting out of control. This much was obvious when officials reported that 2.3 tonnes of cocaine were found on a police officer’s property in November 2020.
In subsequent months, police seized thousands more kilograms of cocaine and dozens of illegal guns and made several related arrests that included police officers.
Law enforcers described these arrests and seizures as evidence that they were bringing the drug trade under control. But the allegations against the former premier raise questions about that narrative.
Over and above the appalling claims against Mr. Fahie himself, the US complaint mentioned several other people here in the VI who allegedly helped facilitate drug trafficking:
• BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard and her son Kadeem Maynard;
• the high-ranking “Government Official One,” who has not been named;
• a group claiming affiliation with Hezbollah, which allegedly helped connect an undercover US informant to senior VI officials;
• airport and port officials;
• an airplane company that traffickers allegedly use to bring drug money into the territory; and possibly others.
But so far, only Mr. Fahie and the Maynards have been charged in the US, and no local arrests have followed. We wonder why not.
The complaint against Mr. Fahie, after all, strongly suggests that the US knows the identity of many of the unnamed traffickers. And VI police claim to work closely with their US counterparts, so they presumably could obtain related information and evidence on request.
If local arrests don’t come soon, VI police must explain. They should also answer questions that arise from the timing of the recent arrests in Miami.
Did they, for instance, know about US suspicions surrounding the premier and ports director? If so, why didn’t they act sooner themselves? If not, why weren’t they alerted, given their purportedly close relationship with their US counterparts?
At best, VI law enforcers appear to have been several steps behind. At worst, they presided over a catastrophic failure of intelligence that will necessitate a ground-up reform of the territory’s law enforcement apparatus.
If the allegations against Mr. Fahie and the Maynards are true, their arrests were a huge step in the right direction. But much more work is obviously needed locally to clean up the mess left behind.
The governor, the police commissioner, and the local elected government must clearly explain the way forward so that the public can rest assured of the territory’s security.