Andrew Fahie, former premier of the British Virgin Islands agreed to accept millions in bribes from a man posing as a drugs trafficker so the BVI premier could uncover whether the smuggler was out to destroy him on behalf of the British government that controls the Caribbean territory, his lawyer claimed during closing arguments at his Miami drug trafficking trial.
“Mr. Fahie was concerned that the British didn’t like him,” his attorney, Theresa Van Vliet, told jurors. “Mr. Fahie knew that someone was trying to remove from his position as premier.”
Jurors, however, didn’t buy this defense and Fahie was foud guilty. He now faces up to life in prison in the US.
The 12-person Miami federal jury found Fahie guilty of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States along with three related money laundering and racketeering charges after a two-week trial. Jurors deliberated for only four hours before reaching their decision on the BVI premier’s fate.
Fahie was arrested in April 2022 in Miami following a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation. Fahie will be sentenced on April 29 before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams.
The judge ordered Fahie, who showed no emotion as the four guilty verdicts were announced, to surrender immediately to prison authorities. The 53-year-old was escorted in handcuffs by a U.S. Marshals deputy to the Federal Detention Center next to the courthouse.
The U.S. government made its cocaine-smuggling case against the former British Virgin Island’s premier by casting a confidential informant as the Mexican cartel trafficker.
The informant, who went by the name “Roberto,” collected hundreds of recorded conversations and text messages with BVI premier Andrew Fahie while they discussed million-dollar bribery payments for access to the British territory, prosecutors said.
Fahie agreed to let thousands of kilos of cocaine pass through his ports to be sold in the United States because of his “greed, arrogance and corruption,” prosecutors added, claiming Fahie needed the bribery payments to build a waterfront mansion in the British Virgin Islands.
“He is all in — he has no reluctance and no hesitation,” prosecutor Kevin Gerarde told jurors during closing arguments.
“He’s not playing Jason Bourne,” fellow prosecutor Sean McLaughlin said, referring to the fictitious CIA agent of book and movie fame, who was trained as an undercover assassin and believed his former bosses were out to kill him.
“What he is, is a politician on the take,” McLaughlin added, referring to Fahie.
Fahie’s defense team argued that he had no intention of using his power to enrich himself on cocaine shipments to the United States. Rather, his lawyers argued that he was “framed” by the United Kingdom, which controls the BVI archipelago as an overseas territory.
Nonetheless, the trial evidence revealed that the sting operation was directed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, not the British government. At the time of the DEA sting, the U.K. government was concluding a corruption investigation of Fahie’s administration — but British authorities noted it was not related to the DEA’s sting.
Fahie’s arrest occurred on April 28, 2022, when he and BVI’s port director, Oleanvine Pickering Maynard, were visiting Miami for a cruise convention. During their visit, they were lured to a Miami airport to check on a huge cash payment that was promised to them by the DEA informant pretending to be a member of the Sinaloa cartel.
The sting culminated with the arrests of Fahie and Maynard, 61, leading to an indictment charging them with conspiring to import cocaine and engage in money laundering, along with attempted money laundering and racketeering. Maynard’s son, Kadeem Stephan Maynard, 32, was also arrested in the Caribbean, brought to Miami and added as the third defendant.
After his arrest, Fahie was granted a $1 million bond and allowed to live with his daughter in South Florida. But Fahie was stripped of his official position as BVI’s premier, which he held from February 2019 to early May 2022.
Prior to his trial, two co-defendants pleaded guilty to the cocaine-smuggling conspiracy. Oleanvine Maynard, the former BVI port director, testified against him.
Fahie and Maynard were arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents when the foreign officials went to Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport to check out the purported $700,000 cash payment on an airplane that they believed was destined for them in the British Virgin Islands, according to court records.
Maynard and her son, Kadeem Maynard, both detained in Miami, admitted in plea deals that the scheme involved agreeing to provide protection for the DEA informant’s purported shipments of thousands of kilos of cocaine through the Island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to the United States in exchange for a cut of the multimillion-dollar profits.
In November, Kadeem Maynard, 32, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison. His plea agreement did not require him to testify at Fahie’s trial.
Kadeem Maynard’s attorney, Jose Rafael Rodriguez, argued that he played a “relatively minor role” in the cocaine import scheme by introducing the DEA informant to his mother, and coordinating meetings between the informant, the mother and BVI’s premier, Fahie.
In her plea agreement, Oleanvine Maynard admitted that she introduced the informant to Fahie and together they used their authority to facilitate the purported cocaine-smuggling plan. She is scheduled for sentencing after Fahie’s trial.