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Fahie Trial Starts: Catch Up Quick

The trial of former BVI Premier Andrew Fahie began Monday in Miami. (Photo still courtesy BVIGIS video)

The cocaine smuggling and money laundering trial of former British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie started Monday in Miami. The islands’ top elected official was caught up in a sting operation in April 2022 by U.S. agents posing as Mexican drug cartel representatives, prosecutors said.

Fahie, a fixture in BVI politics since 1999, has pleaded not guilty. His alleged co-conspirators — former Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Pickering Maynard and her son, Kadeem Maynard — have pleaded guilty and agreed to tell authorities everything they knew about the alleged plot.

Prosecutors said they gathered mountains of evidence against the trio, including text messages, WhatsApp communications, and more than 8,000 minutes of secretly recorded audio tape on which they enthusiastically agreed to make Tortola a major narcotics through point. Fahie allegedly bragged about decades of ill deeds and gave the name of at least one smuggler that he considered like family, according to prosecutors.

Fahie’s attorneys are expected to present evidence that the then-BVI leader planned to have the people he thought were drug smugglers arrested and the trio’s $700,000 downpayment seized by police.

Prosecutors plan to show the jury how Fahie and Pickering Maynard allegedly planned to bribe BVI Customs officials and airport employees to allow cash to flow into the territory undetected and planned to set up shell companies to legitimize container ships laden with cocaine during brief BVI stopovers.

The identities of these potentially corrupt BVI officials have not been released but court filings show Fahie and Pickering Maynard communicating with surnames associated with the airport, Customs, police, and government ministries.

Two related BVI arrests have been made: A long-serving employee of the Premier’s Office was charged with breach of public trust for sending a letter to U.S. officials demanding Fahie’s release on diplomatic grounds, and a senior Customs official was charged with the same offense. The Royal British Virgin Islands Police Force would not reveal the identity of the official charged and released in November 2023 but local media and other sources contend it was Commissioner of Customs Wade N. Smith. Appointed in August 2020, Smith had been put on administrative leave in August 2022.

Fahie has been largely confined to his daughters’ Miami apartment since making bail in May 2022. The Maynards have been behind bars since the trio’s April 28, 2022 arrest.

Kadeem Maynard was sentenced to 57 months in prison on a single count of conspiracy to import cocaine and Pickering Maynard is scheduled to be sentenced on the same charge Feb. 22, after she testifies.

It was unclear how long Fahie’s trial would last.

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