British Virgin Islands Premier Facing U.S. Charges Of Drug Trafficking
The premier of the British Virgin Islands has been removed from office and replaced after he was indicted in the U.S. on charges of drug smuggling. Federal authorities say that the premier helped arrange port access for drug smugglers. In return, the conspirators would get a chunk of the proceeds from cocaine sales.
Federal authorities say that the plan was to attempt to test-smuggle 3,000 kilos of cocaine through BVI ports en route to the U.S. and other locations. The premier would help the smugglers secure licenses, protect their cargo, and pay off key officials. The men came to the U.S. to recover $700,000 in advance funds when they were arrested by federal authorities in Miami. Instead, the premier was forced to pay a $500,000 bond to get released from jail. The premier will be required to stay in Miami while his case is pending. As a condition of his release, he will be required to stay with his two daughters who live in the U.S. He will be required to wear an ankle bracelet and his entire family will be required to surrender their passports. U.S. prosecutors had argued that the premier would flee if he was allowed out. The government plans to appeal the release order.
Most drug busts of this scale are stings, and this was no exception. The conspirators including the premier were under the impression that they were dealing with a member of the Sinaloa Cartel. They were actually speaking to an undercover DEA agent. According to the DEA agent, they had struck a deal to move millions of kilos of cocaine through BVI ports en route to Puerto Rico, Miami, and New York. The men would take a cut of over $7 million per load.
Among the services the men were to supply to the fake cartel, they would protect shipments at port and launder the proceeds through a series of shell companies.
An attorney for the BVI premier stated that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over the man because he is a foreign official. An attorney representing the premier filed a diplomatic note with the U.S. government penned by an unnamed associate demanding the immediate and unconditional release of their client.
Political pressure from his own country appears to be turning against him, however. Many officials have disowned the letter and the new premier is pledging to restore the democracy that was destroyed by the former’s corruption. But the windfall could take several more of his former associates with him as reports of corruption in government spending are now coming out. In other words, this particular premier is finding himself without substantial allies on either side to bolster his release.
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