MIAMI, Florida — Jossue Dominguez told a United States jury Tuesday about the time in 2022 that he lied to then-Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie about his job — and much more.
Mr. Dominguez wasn’t really a trafficker working for Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel as he had claimed, he testified during the second day of Mr. Fahie’s drug-trafficking trial in Miami.
Nor did he intend to move to the VI to manage the organisation’s cocaine-smuggling operations, he said.
And Mr. Dominguez wasn’t, as he’d represented, the “godson” of a more senior cartel member known to Mr. Fahie and his alleged co-conspirators Oleanvine and Kadeem Maynard as “Roberto.”
Instead, Mr. Dominguez was a Miami Beach Police Department narcotics detective detailed as a “task force officer” to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
“I was playing as a drug trafficker,” the detective told the jury on Tuesday.
And “Roberto” — who didn’t appear in court Tuesday and isn’t scheduled to testify in the trial — was working for the DEA as a confidential source, Mr. Dominguez said.
Mr. Dominguez is one of several witnesses expected to testify in the coming days.
During the course of a trial slated to last at least a week, the prosecution will try to depict Mr. Fahie as being corrupt and seeking to enrich himself with drug monies, according to Monday opening statements reported by the Miami Herald.
The defence, however, will seek to show that Mr. Fahie is innocent and believed he was “framed” by the United Kingdom, according to the newspaper.
“He believed the UK government was involved in a scheme to frame him to remove him from office,” the Herald quoted Mr. Fahie’s attorney Ms. Delgado as saying during opening statements delivered after the 12 jurors were selected.
The Tuesday proceedings, scheduled to start 9 a.m. Miami time, got under way at about 9:30 a.m. after a delay that Judge Kathleen Williams blamed on a juror’s late arrival.
As the court waited, Mr. Fahie sat at the defence table on the right side of the courtroom wearing a dark grey suit and occasionally speaking quietly to his lawyers, Theresa Van Vliet and Joyce Delgado, of the Miami law firm Venable.
At a table to the defence’s left, a pair of prosecutors, Kevin Gerard and Sean McLaughlin, huddled and fiddled with a cardboard box of large white binders filled with case materials.
In the gallery were about half a dozen people, who included supporters of Mr. Fahie and other observers.
It was Mr. Dominguez, the undercover narcotics detective, who surreptitiously recorded audio and video of two meetings at Miami’s Embassy Suites Hotel on April 27, 2022 that form some of the key evidence in federal prosecutors’ criminal case against Mr. Fahie.
Mr. Fahie wasn’t present at the first meeting, which allegedly included Ms. Maynard, then the BVI Ports Authority managing director, as well as Mr. Maynard, “Roberto,” and Mr. Dominguez.
The detective said the lunchtime meeting lasted about an hour. It helped to lay the groundwork for a second meeting at the hotel later that night attended by “Roberto,” Mr. Dominguez, Ms. Maynard, a woman identified during court proceedings only as “Roxane,” and Mr. Fahie, he testified.
Mr. Fahie was in Miami at the time leading a VI government delegation to the Seatrade Cruise Global 2022 cruise industry conference. But prosecutors claim he was in fact interested in a very different sort of business.
They said Mr. Fahie was an active participant in a plan that he believed would see him receive an initial payment of $500,000 in cash in exchange for his support in allowing VI waters to be used for cocaine trafficking, beginning with a 3,000-kilogram test shipment weeks later.
According to the complaint against Mr. Fahie, on April 28, 2022, the day after the Embassy Suites meetings, Mr. Fahie was reportedly shown $700,000 in fake cash — his share plus $200,000 for Ms. Maynard — on a private jet parked at the Miami Opa-Locka Executive Airport.
Mr. Dominguez testified Tuesday that during discussions on the jet, Mr. Fahie agreed that the jet with the cash would return to the VI escorted by “Roxane.”
But the jet never left Miami. And Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard, who last year changed her plea to guilty and is set to testify against the former premier in the coming days, were arrested.
Mr. Dominguez, the first and only prosecution witness presented Tuesday, served as the jurors’ guide to the recordings and the meetings.
During the roughly four-and-a-half hours that he was on the stand, the detective mostly stayed silent, as Mr. McLaughlin, one of the prosecutors, introduced exhibits into evidence and played recordings for the jury.
Mr. McLaughlin occasionally called on Mr. Dominguez to clarify statements or to provide context to the recordings.
Jurors followed along by flipping through white three-ring binders containing transcripts of the calls. Some attendees sitting in the audience strained to hear the recordings being played over the courtroom’s speakers.
The voice of Mr. Dominguez — who said he has worked on more than 50 drug investigations, including dozens that involved “kilogram-quantities” of cocaine — was rarely heard on the recordings of the meetings. He told the jurors why: In keeping with his “godson” persona as a junior cartel member, he let “Roberto,” the confidential source posing as a more senior member, do most of the talking.
The detective added that because he came relatively late to the investigation, he didn’t want to say something “wrong” that might raise suspicion.
During the lunchtime meeting, “Roberto” was recorded telling Ms. Maynard that “we have a company” — which Mr. Dominguez told jurors they described as part of the “cartel’s” efforts to make its trafficking activities appear legitimate.
Also on the recording, Ms. Maynard allegedly made reference to “our friend,” a phrase Mr. Dominguez said alluded to Mr. Fahie, who was also called by his alleged nickname “head coach” during the conversation.
Alleged side deal
During the lunch meeting, the attendees also discussed putting together a “side deal,” under which Mr. Maynard would work with the cartel to transit some 60 kilograms of cocaine, according to the prosecution.
Ms. Maynard went so far as to produce coordinates and a business plan relating to the side deal, Mr. Dominguez said.
However, the prosecution and the defence both noted that this deal didn’t involve Mr. Fahie. Judge Williams, at the defence’s urging, gave jurors a “limiting instruction” about the issue, allowing them to use the information for context but not as evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Fahie.
“The parties agree that Mr. Fahie had no knowledge of those discussions or the side deal,” the judge advised.
While they were talking about the side deal, Mr. Dominguez used the code “Juan” to warn Ms. Maynard when the waiter approached because he didn’t want them to be overheard discussing the sale of cocaine, he said.
Mr. Maynard’s role in the main trafficking conspiracy, Mr. Dominguez said, was to ensure that the plane carrying $700,000 could land safely in Tortola without being checked by law enforcement officials.
Last year, Mr. Maynard changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to serve nearly five years in federal prison and a five-year period of supervised release.
For her part, Ms. Maynard, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22, was heard on tape assuring “Roberto” that she could ensure the traffickers’ vessels could clear into VI waters without interference, according to Mr. Dominguez’s account.
“I will be the one doing the boats for you to make sure you are safe,” she said.
The parties then discussed getting a conference room at the Embassy Suites to facilitate the second meeting later that evening with Mr. Fahie.
After the lunch meeting ended, Mr. Dominguez and “Roberto” joined a “debriefing session” with two DEA agents, Brian Witek and Shad Aschleman, to discuss what was said, according to the detective.
At 7 p.m. on April 27, 2022, “Roberto” and Mr. Dominguez returned to the hotel.
“We walked into the lobby,” the undercover detective said. “We met with the defendant, Ms. Maynard, and a female we later became aware was Roxane.”
They decamped to a conference room with a long table, he said. On the recording, the attendees are heard joining in prayer.
The parties then spoke about the logistics of the jet carrying $700,000 traveling to Tortola — including ensuring that those involved had the proper passports.
After a few moments, Mr. Fahie asked Ms. Maynard and “Roxane” to leave the room, Mr. Dominguez said.
That’s when Mr. Fahie discussed with the supposed cartel members about paying off an $83,000 debt owed to an associate of Mr. Fahie’s in St. Maarten, according to the detective.
“There was supposed to be a meeting in St. Maarten where a bribe was to be paid,” Mr. Dominguez said.
“Roberto” and Mr. Fahie agreed to fly to the Dutch territory on May 2 to facilitate that transaction, according to the 2022 criminal complaint laid against the former premier.
Although the direct examination of Mr. Dominguez was still ongoing, Judge Williams adjourned the trial for the day at 2:30 p.m.
Attorneys for Mr. Fahie had yet to question the witness or fully present their defence.
As Judge Williams dismissed the jury for the day, she asked them to be on time for Wednesday’s start time of 9 a.m. And she asked them to remember their oath not to discuss the case.
“You’re going to go home tonight and you’re going to pretty much have the same conversation that you had last night: ‘How was your day? What did you do?’” she said. “The answer is: ‘Okay, good, bad’ — you can fill in that line. But the answer to what did you do is: ‘I was a juror, and other than that I can’t tell you anything.’”
Mr. Fahie has been charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, attempted money laundering, and “interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering.”
He has denied the charges against him and maintained his innocence.
Follow Mr. Fahie’s trial at bvibeacon.com.