Andrew Fahie, the embattled British Virgin Islands (BVI) premier who was arrested in the U.S. on drug smuggling charges, has been replaced as the overseas territory’s leader and head of government.
According to BBC, the 51-year-old’s replacement came into effect after the British overseas territory’s assembly unanimously supported a no-confidence motion in the now former premier on Thursday. Natalio Wheatley, who served as Fahie’s deputy, was subsequently sworn in as the BVI’s new premier. Wheatley’s appointment was approved by the islands’ governor, John Rankin.
Wheatley said being replaced with Fahie was “important and necessary step in renewing our cherished democracy” and amending the institutions of the overseas territory.
“It is my hope that this day will be remembered as the day we began a new era of democratic governance,” Wheatley added.
Rankin, who holds the UK government’s highest position in the territory, said he moved to relieve Fahie of his duties after the no-confidence vote.
Fahie and senior BVI port official Oleanvine Maynard were arrested in Miami last week in a United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting, BBC reported. They were taken into custody on suspicion of drug smuggling and money laundering. The two suspects and Maynard’s son have since been charged with conspiracy to import more than 5kg (11lb) of cocaine into the United States.
Fahie and Maynard were arrested at a Miami airport after the former premier accepted what he assumed to be $700,000 in cash, The Guardian reported. The supposed money was to be taken back to the British Virgin Islands on behalf of Fahie.
Court document’s stated that Fahie, Maynard, and Maynard’s son met with an undercover DEA agent on several occasions to talk about a deal involving the transportation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to the British Virgin Islands. The contraband would then be sent to Puerto Rico, Miami and New York. The DEA agent pretended to be a member of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.
“He’s shown in this case that he’s corrupt to the core and believes he’s above the law,” Assistant U.S. attorney Frederic Shadley said in reference to Fahie. “He was a public servant sworn to uphold those laws but he broke them over and over again.”
Fahie’s attorney said the former premier would plead not guilty to the charges.