Ex-BVI premier heads to trial alone on drug charges after two co-defendants plead guilty in Miami

BVI Government

The undercover operation unfolded like a narco TV series: British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Alturo Fahie and the Caribbean territory’s port director, Oleanvine Pickering Maynard, were lured to a Miami airport to check on a huge cash payment that was promised to them by a Drug Enforcement Administration informant pretending to be a Mexican cartel member.

The April 2022 sting ended with the arrests of Fahie and Maynard on charges of conspiring to import cocaine and engage in money laundering, along with attempted money laundering and racketeering. Maynard’s son, Kadeem Stephan Maynard, was also arrested in the Caribbean and brought to Miami.

But Fahie will be going to trial alone in Miami federal court in January since the two co-defendants have pleaded guilty to the cocaine-smuggling conspiracy charge. Oleanvine Maynard, the former BVI port director, is expected to testify against him.

After his arrest, Fahie was granted a $1 million bond and is living in South Florida. At that time, Fahie was also stripped of his official position as premier by his colleagues in the British Virgin Islands.

His defense attorney, Theresa Van Vliet, a former federal prosecutor, told the Miami Herald Tuesday there’s no plea deal in the works for her client and that he intends to fight the charges at trial.

Fahie and Oleanvine 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 the British Virgin Islands, according to a DEA criminal complaint and affidavit.

Oleanvine 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 through the Island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to the United States in exchange for a cut of the profits.

Kadeem Maynard, 32, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison on Monday. His plea agreement does not require him to testify at Fahie’s trial set for January in Miami federal court.

Kadeem Maynard’s attorney, Jose Rafael Rodriguez, who declined to comment, obtained a prison term for his client below the sentencing guidelines of 11 to 14 years from U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams. In court, he argued that Kadeem Maynard 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, which starts on Jan. 8, 2024. Her plea agreement requires that she testify against Fahie. Her attorney, Raymond D’Arsey Houlihan with the Federal Public Defender’s Office, declined to comment.

Series of meetings

The U.S. undercover probe began in the fall of 2021 with a series of mysterious meetings between the confidential DEA informant posing as the Mexican drug smuggler and a group claiming to be Lebanese Hezbollah operatives with connections to the Caribbean territory’s leaders, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in the case.

With their help, the informant eventually met up with Kadeem Maynard, his mother, Oleanevine Maynard, and then Fahie, BVI’s premier. He then lured them into providing protection for purported Colombian cocaine shipments through the British Virgin Islands to Miami, U.S. authorities say.

In return, the informant, who claimed to be working for the Sinaloa cartel, promised to pay the premier and port director $700,000 at first and millions later on as their cut of the planned cocaine shipments — all during recorded meetings in the British Virgin Islands and Miami in March and April 2022, according to the documents filed in Miami federal court.

According to the 15-page DEA affidavit, when he was taken into custody in Miami, Fahie confirmed his identity but then asked: “Why am I getting arrested? I don’t have any money or drugs.”

Both Fahie and Oleanvine Maynard, who were in Miami for a cruise convention, went to the Opa-locka airport after the DEA informant and another undercover operative told them that it was their initial payoff, according to the affidavit filed by federal prosecutor Frederic Shadley.

Throughout the affidavit, the DEA informant emphasized the critical role of the British territory — an archipelago with a population of only 30,000 that is adjacent to the U.S. Virgin Islands — in the Mexican cartel’s purported drug-smuggling operation. In one recorded meeting in Tortola, the informant described how the transport plan would start with test runs to Miami and eventually make them rich.

At one point during an April 7, 2022, meeting with BVI’s premier, the port director and her son, the informant gave Fahie $20,000 — saying “this is a good faith gift to seal that we have an agreement,” according to the affidavit.

Despite the gesture, Fahie still seemed suspicious of the DEA informant, asking him if he was an undercover operative. The informant said he was not and told Fahie: “Well, first of all, you’re not touching anything,” a reference to the planned shipments of cocaine.

According to the affidavit, Fahie replied: “I will touch one thing, the money.”

In response to the arrests of the premier and the others, BVI Gov. John Rankin issued a statement saying the U.S. government informed United Kingdom officials of the drug-trafficking case in Miami. He called it “shocking news.”

Rankin also noted that the narco-trafficking arrests were unrelated to a U.K. corruption investigation of Fahie’s government. Corruption in the small islands of the Caribbean, which became a major drug transshipment point for U.S.-bound cocaine shipments in the 1980s, has always been a concern for the U.S. government. In recent years, U.S. officials have been helping the U.K. government in its investigation of money laundering allegations in the self-governed, dependent British territories in the Caribbean.