British Virgin Islands premier arrested on cocaine-smuggling and money-laundering charges – POLITICO

British Virgin Islands’ Premier Andrew Fahie was arrested Thursday on expenses of conspiring to import cocaine and cash laundering after a profitable sting operation led by U.S. authorities.

Fahie, the elected head of presidency within the British abroad territory, was detained in Miami after agreeing to provide brokers posing as drug smugglers entry to British Virgin Islands’ ports in alternate for $700,000 (€663,000).

Responding to the arrest, U.Okay. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stated she was “appalled by these serious allegations.”

The abroad territory, a group of round 60 islands house to about 30,000 folks, is essentially self-governed. The U.Okay. nonetheless oversees its protection and overseas coverage — in addition to some home coverage, together with inner safety — via the governor appointed by the British authorities. The premier, elected by the territory’s House of Assembly, oversees most different coverage selections and presides over a small Cabinet.

Court papers confirmed that U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers posing as members of Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel — previously run by imprisoned drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, often known as El Chapo — agreed with Fahie to retailer Colombian cocaine hidden inside 5-kilogram paint buckets on British Virgin Island territory for a short while earlier than sending it on to be offered within the U.S.

The abroad territory’s prime port official Oleanvine Maynard and her son, Kadeem Maynard, have been additionally arrested within the sting operation. The investigation was initiated after a report by a confidential informant in October final 12 months, based on the DEA criticism, media reported.

The abroad territory’s governor, John Rankin, convened an emergency Cabinet assembly on the territory late Thursday, and stated Deputy Premier Natalio Wheatley will stay appearing premier. Rankin argued he would now “move ahead urgently” with the publication of the corruption probe.

“I realise this will be shocking news for people in the Territory,” he stated in an announcement. “I would call for calm at this time.”

The British Virgin Islands authorities was already beneath investigation by the British authorities for organized crime, corruption, misuse of public funds and cronyism. In 2021, the U.Okay. arrange a fee of inquiry into the allegations of misgovernance.

At the time, Fahie denied authorities involvement in such actions, telling POLITICO they have been “irresponsible.” “The inquiry has consumed the entire public service,” he added. “And so far, it has shown no proof of corruption in the BVI.”

The fee additionally created controversy after former U.Okay. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was discovered to be endeavor non-public authorized work advising Fahie within the inquiry alongside his parliamentary duties.

The inquiry got here to an finish earlier this month, although its outcomes should not but public.

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