Former BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard (left, shown during the pandemic) testified against former premier Andrew Fahie (right) in Miami. (File Photo)

During a friendly lunch meeting in St. Thomas in March 2022, Oleanvine Maynard explained her financial goals to an undercover operative she believed to be a member of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.

“There are things I want to accomplish,” the BVI Ports Authority managing director told the informant, who was part of a sting operation headed by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. “One is to pay off my house in Tortola. And when I retire, I want to go to Miami. And in both areas, I want to be rent free.”

Now the 62-year-old Virgin Islander will see one wish come true — though not as planned.

Last Thursday, US District Court Judge Kathleen Williams sentenced Ms. Maynard to spend nine years and four months in prison and then five years on “supervised release” for conspiring to import cocaine into the US.

The long-time Virgin Islands civil servant, who once served as labour commissioner and clerk of the House of Assembly, is currently housed in the Miami Federal Detention Center.

Also incarcerated in the high-rise prison are Ms. Maynard’s co-conspirators: her son Kadeem Maynard and her one-time boss, former VI premier Andrew Fahie, who is awaiting sentencing on drug conspiracy charges after being convicted in an eight-day trial in February.

Testimony against Fahie

During Mr. Fahie’s trial, Ms. Maynard testified for the prosecution, explaining in detail how she had been approached by three “Arab” men in the VI.

She said the men sought to arrange a meeting between her and an “investor” purportedly named Roberto Quintero, who was looking to do business in the VI and wanted to know how goods moved in and out of the territory’s ports.

On March 30, 2022, Ms. Maynard and her son had lunch with Mr. Quintero — who was actually the DEA informant — at the Greenhouse Restaurant & Bar in St. Thomas.

There, Mr. Quintero described himself as a Sinaloa Cartel member who wanted to move cocaine through the VI, Ms. Maynard said.

She offered to help him to conduct his business by arranging for her son to obtain a trade licence as a shipping agent, which would allow him to help facilitate drug-laden vessels’ passage in and out of the VI without interference, she said.

The trio also discussed a “side deal” through which Mr. Maynard would receive cocaine to be sold in the VI.

‘Very good friend’

On a secret recording of the St. Thomas meeting played for the jury in Mr. Fahie’s February trial, Ms. Maynard described Mr. Fahie as a “very good friend” who would likely be receptive to Mr. Quintero’s plan. Mr. Quintero concluded the meeting by giving Ms. Maynard a $10,000 gift of cash, which she eventually spent, she testified.

Weeks later, she said, she joined Mr. Quintero in the VI at a Parham Town meeting where he was introduced to Mr. Fahie and the details of the planned drug conspiracy were discussed.

Ms. Maynard also met the DEA informant on April 27 and 28, 2022, at Miami’s Embassy Suites hotel as they finalised the deal.

In exchange for the “free passage” of his cocaine — disguised in waterproof construction materials — Ms. Maynard was told that Mr. Quintero planned to deliver $700,000 in cash to Tortola aboard a private plane, she testified.

Some $200,000 of that would be Ms. Maynard’s, with the rest going to Mr. Fahie, she said.

But after viewing fake cash aboard a plane at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport on April 28, 2022, Ms. Maynard was arrested.

She has remained in prison since then.

Guilty plea

In 2023, Ms. Maynard pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to import cocaine, and prosecutors have since dropped three other charges against her.

Under US sentencing rules, Ms. Maynard technically faced a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment, though a “safety valve” provision in the rules allowed Judge Williams to go lower than the minimum.

Prosecutors had asked for a term of 11 years and four months, but Ms. Maynard hoped for a lighter sentence in exchange for her testimony against Mr. Fahie.

The judge said she also considered Ms. Maynard’s acceptance of responsibility for her crimes, her advanced age, her medical issues, and her clean criminal record, according to the news service Law360.

Though the judge acknowledged that Ms. Maynard was in difficult financial circumstances in 2022, she said that fact “was not a justification for what she did but gave context to her actions,” according to the news service.

In August 2023, Ms. Maynard provided the court with eight letters from character witnesses: her daughter, granddaughter, brother, sister, three nephews and a St. Thomas acquaintance.

Daughter Karisma Maynard described her mother as a “huge part” of her life.

“I cannot remember a day that my mother wasn’t there for my children and I before her date of incarceration, and even now she still tries her best to keep in touch to make sure we are doing well,” the daughter wrote.

Ms. Maynard is set to be released from prison years after her son, who is serving a 57-month prison term and is due to be released on May 15, 2026, according to US Bureau of Prisons records.

Fahie sentencing

Mr. Fahie — who has maintained his innocence — is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 5 and has asked to receive the minimum of 10 years in prison.

He could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine, but he plans to appeal his February conviction, court records show.

In a motion filed earlier this month, defence attorney Theresa Van Vliet downplayed Mr. Fahie’s role in the conspiracy and described him as “a man of conscience who cares for others over himself” and who had devoted his life to public service.

The attorney sought to pin most of the blame for the drug and money-laundering conspiracy on the Maynards, who were accused of agreeing to a “side deal” without Mr. Fahie’s knowledge.

“At best, the government’s evidence showed that Mr. Fahie was more of a figurehead than an active participant, and although he stood to earn a large amount of money, he did not stand to earn as much as the participants who would be more permanent and more involved in the ‘side deal,’” the lawyer wrote.