Legal /

British Virgin Islands Premier to Plead Not Guilty to Drug Trafficking

Andrew Fahie has not resigned from his elected position

Andrew Fahie intends to plead not guilty to drug smuggling and money laundering after his arrest last week in Miami.

Fahie is the premier of the British Virgin Islands – the top government official elected by the people. 

While speaking with undercover federal agents he believed were cartel members, Fahie agreed to help smuggle thousands of kilograms of cocaine through the BVI port in Tortola.

Theresa Van Vliet, Fahie’s attorney, said her client intends to deny the allegations during a pre-trial hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes set a $500,000 bond and said he could be released from pre-trial detention but that he could not leave the United States. Fahie will be monitored and confined to the apartment shared by his two daughters, per the BBC.

Fahie must wear an ankle monitor and both he and his college-aged daughters must surrender their travel documents as conditions of his release. 

Otazo-Reyes said that the monitored confinement would “ensure his appearance” and that she did not think he would flee the country.

The premier will not be released until after an appeal made by the federal prosecutors has been reviewed.

On May 2, Fahie tried to claim immunity from arrest and detention because of his status as the head of government in the British Virgin Islands. 

U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez rebuked this claim as America does not “recognize the British Virgin Islands as a sovereign state,” according to court documents reviewed by The Washington Examiner.

The sting operation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Agents arrested Fahie on the tarmac of the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport on April 28.

They also arrested the BVI Port Authorities managing director, Oleanvine Maynard, who was traveling with Fahie. Maynard allegedly accepted a $200,000 payment in connection with the drug smuggling scheme which would have used the Tortola port to traffic drugs from Columbia to New York and Miami.

Although the British Virgin Islands have named Natalio Whately as the acting premier, Fahie has yet to resign from his position. This is preventing Wheatley from taking over as the country’s interim leader.

Prior to his arrest, Fahie was already facing allegations of widespread corruption and an inquiry into widespread government fraud had been launched,” reports Sky News. The inquiry “found millions of dollars were spent on projects which were abandoned or found to be of no public benefit.”

The investigation is not related to the charges brought against Fahie by the American government.

Fahie will formally enter his not guilty plea during his arraignment hearing on May 25.

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