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How US undercover agents posed as Mexican drug dealers to snare British Virgin Islands premier

Andrew Fahie (leader of the British Virgin Islands) was detained by the US under suspicion of drug trafficking through the Caribbean Island.

After undercover agents from US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), posing as Mexican cartel members, he was taken into custody in Miami.

The US has taken custody of Oleanvine Maynard, Oleanvine Maynard’s 51-year-old leader and her son.

Sky News examines the operations.

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How are the British Virgin Islands managed?

British Virgin Islands (BVI), a British overseas territory located in the Caribbean, is made up of 40 islands.

It is a parliamentary democracy. The residents elect a premier as their leader. Andrew Fahie has been the leader since 2019.

More information about the Caribbean

Image: Premier Andrew Fahie. Pic: Government of the Virgin Islands

Head of state, the Queen, is represented by John Rankin, a British governor.

The BVI economy is heavily dependent on offshore finance. Nearly half of its GDP comes from financial services. A 2017 investigation by the ‘Panama Papers’ revealed that it was a popular tax haven.

Sir Gary Hickinbottom, the judge of the island, opened an independent investigation into corruption last January.

The state has been accused of corruption for years, with PS5m of public funds being allegedly spent on an imaginary airport.

According to Mr Rankin, the arrest of Mr Fahie this week is not related to that investigation.


How was its leader arrested?

The DEA used an informant as well as other undercover agents for the investigation of Mr Fahie. They liaised with him, his head at ports, and her son.

An affidavit from a DEA Special Agent states that the probe began in October 2021, when an informant met with a group self-declared operatives of Hezbollah’s terrorist group Lebanese. They were discussing claims of business connections to southern Florida.

The informant requested that the group use Tortola, a BVI island, to transport cocaine from Colombia to the US. This was done over several meetings.

According to the informant, the island, which is home to most of the BVI’s inhabitants, could be used as a temporary storage port for drugs.

Image A DEA informant suggested shipping the drugs via Tortola from Colombia to Puerto Rico, and then on to Miami and New York

“Subsequent laundering drug proceeds” was also discussed. The latter offered protection but required payment.

One member of the terror group offered to meet with Mr Fahie while another claimed they “owned” Ms Maynard, the head of islands’ ports.


DEA informant posed for El Chapo’s cartel

The DEA informant met Ms Maynard with her son Kadeem Maynard in March on Tortola, then St Thomas on US Virgin Islands.

The informant claimed to be a member Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. This cartel was once run by El Chapo Guzman, a prisoner of drug lords.

Image Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a drug lord in Mexico City in 2016,

According to the DEA affidavit, he said to the pair that he needed help moving thousands of kilos cocaine from Colombia through Tortola to Puerto Rico, then to Miami and New York, where it would be sold for between $26,000 to $38,000 per kilogram.

They would be given a share of the proceeds. Ms Maynard stated that this would be kept in “shell companies”.

She said she could process your paperwork so that you can enter the territory for a couple of days and then move on… it is simple.”


“Fahie is not always straight”

Both sides indicated that they needed to talk to Mr Fahie or another senior BVI official in order for the operation to succeed.

According to Ms Maynard, she said about the leader of the island: “I know him, if there is an opportunity, he will seize it… I know what kind of person he’s.”

Her son claimed that his mother knew the Premier and could go to him anytime. He would then say “ok.”

He said, “You see, my Premier is a little crook occasionally… he doesn’t always be straight.”

In the days that followed, Mr Maynard spoke to Mr Fahie and said that the “head coach” wanted to play with the team. This refers to the premier’s support for the plan.

According to the affidavit Mr Fahie stated that he would require $500,000 upfront in exchange for facilitation of use of the airports and ports on the islands.

Separately, Mr. and Mrs. Maynard explained to the informant that the premier was “skittish about sting operations” because of ongoing corruption inquiries on the island.

Fahie stated that he wanted to make sure the informant was not working for the DEA. He said in one telephone call, “It took 20 years to get to this point, and I don’t want to leave in twenty minutes.”

He was assured by the informant that he was a fixer’ for cartel and had only a business proposal for him.


Cocaine shipped by buckets of paint

They met with Mr. and Mrs. Maynard in Tortola in April.

The informant stated that they wanted to bring 3,000kg cocaine into the BVI at one time. He also said that 5kg buckets with waterproofing paint were needed.

They also discussed the potential profit margins from the production of cocaine in Colombia and its shipment to the US.

Image: Policeman in Guaviare (Colombia) at a drug lab. File pic

Fahie used a calculator to estimate them at $78million, and requested a 10% reduction.

The informant offered to assist Mr Fahie in his re-election campaign, in exchange for his help choosing his ultimate successor. This would allow them to also allow drug shipment.


Fake seizures organized to make Fahie seem to be dealing with drugs

They agreed to a 3,000kg trial run. Then, they would haul 3,000kg several times per month for four months.

According to the informant, fake drug seizures and money were organized so that Fahie would appear tough.

According to the affidavit Mr Fahie said that Fahie had laughed and claimed that the informant had “thought about everything” and that the British were trying to “get him out over the years”.

At the end of the meeting Mr Fahie asked Ms Maynard out before telling the informant that he needed $83,000 to pay a Senegal debt to someone he had “fixed” some political problems in Senegal.

The informant said they agreed to meet with Mr Fahie in Miami on 27 April and arrange for $700,000. Cash to be left on a private plane at Opa Locka Airport.

Image: An aircraft takes off from Opa Locka Executive airport in Florida. File pic

It would then be flown to the BVI, and then taken to St Martin in the Caribbean where Mr Fahie and the informant could meet the Senegalese man and repay the money.

The informant presented Mr Fahie $20,000 as a gesture of goodwill at the conclusion of the meeting.

The informant and an undercover DEA agent met Ms Maynard in Miami on 27 April to discuss the agreement that was made with the BVI premier.

According to the source, the drugs would begin coming from Colombia to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands by April 30, and would then be transferred to Tortola.

Ms Maynard stated that the drugs-carrying boats wouldn’t need to enter the port, as she could see them coming in from her office.


Fahie, Maynard are arrested at Florida airport

According to the affidavit the undercover agent and informant arrived at Mr Fahie’s home in southern Florida the next day to pick him up. They then took him to Opa Locka Airport, where he was flying to Philadelphia on a private aircraft.

According to the informant, he wanted Mr Fahie to see something before he left.

He boarded a different plane and revealed that he had purchased $700,000.000 worth of designer shopping bags. He said that it would later be stored in suitcases, but that he wanted the premier first to inspect it.

They all agreed to it and got off the plane, where they were awaiting arrest by law enforcement officers.

He replied by asking “Why are you being arrested? I don’t own any money or drugs?”

Later in the morning, the source and the agent undercover picked Ms Maynard up from her Miami hotel and drove her to the airport.

She was also brought aboard the private plane and shown the money before she was given $200,000 for her part.

She was taken into custody by law enforcement as they were about to leave the plane.

The DEA special agent responsible for the affidavit proposes to charge Mr Fahie and Ms Maynard with conspiracy to import drugs and money laundering.

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