The premier of the British Virgin Islands was arrested in Miami on Thursday and accused of agreeing to help a federal informant posing as a member of the Sinaloa cartel move thousands of kilos of cocaine through his country’s port, according to federal court documents.
The country’s top port official was also taken into custody on money laundering and drug conspiracy charges, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Miami.
Premier Andrew Fahie, 51, was arrested at Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport after he boarded what had been portrayed as a private jet and inspected shopping bags filled with $700,000 in cash, the complaint says.
“Why am I getting arrested,” he is alleged to have said, according to the documents. “I don’t have any money or drugs.”
Oleanvine Maynard, the managing director of the country’s port authority, was arrested later Thursday after, authorities alleged, she accepted a $200,000 payment as part of the deal.
Maynard’s son, Kadeem Maynard, who is accused of having helped broker the arrangement, was also arrested on drug conspiracy and money laundering charges, said Anne Milgram, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Today is yet another example of DEA’s resolve to hold corrupt members of government responsible for using their positions of power to provide a safe haven for drug traffickers and money launderers in exchange for their own financial and political gain,” she said in a statement.
In a statement, British Virgin Islands Gov. John Rankin said the criminal investigation wasn’t linked to a separate, U.K.-led inquiry examining corruption on the island.
“I realize this will be shocking news for people in the territory,” he said. “And I would call for calm at this time.”
In a separate statement, U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the allegations “appalling” and said she was holding an emergency meeting with the territory’s cabinet later Thursday.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Fahie and the Maynards have lawyers to speak on their behalf. Court records didn’t list any.
According to the documents, the informant met with Fahie, Maynard and her son on April 7 on the island of Tortola and made a deal for “free passage” of 3,000 kilo shipments of cocaine heading from Colombia to the U.S.
The meeting Thursday in Florida was described in the documents as a “test run” of the operation.
Fahie is alleged to have agreed to accept 12 percent of the proceeds of the sales, and the informant promised to send him low-purity cocaine that local authorities could seize to make it appear that Fahie was cracking down on drug trafficking, authorities said.
“Fahie loved the idea, and explained that in the past he never got paid at the end of his involvement in schemes like this,” the document says.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Fahie and Maynard would first appear in court.
Fahie, who was elected in 2019, is also chairman of the Virgin Islands Party. Maynard was appointed to her post in 2021.
Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.