Some of the Brazilians identifying their luggage in front of the Immigration Department after they were checked by the Customs K-9 for contraband.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Customs Officer Clarence Fahie, who has been attending court for the past year in relation to his alleged role in the human smuggling incident involving 13 Brazilians, has been freed of those allegations.
Prosecution dropped the charge of breach of trust against Fahie, who has been a Customs Officer for twenty five years.
Today, October 5, Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe informed the court that the crown held discussions with the defence and as a result, they have filed a discontinuation of the case.
Also charged in relation to the incident is Immigration Officer Brian Henley. Scatliffe said they intend to proceed with the case against Henley and November 9 was set for the commencement of the Preliminary Inquiry.
Henley, who has been Immigration Officer for 15 years, is charged with 14 counts of breach of trust.
Fahie was represented by Patrick Thompson and Henley is being represented by Stephen Daniels.
Prosecution had contended that Fahie's role was that he cleared the MV 'Paint In Black' vessel, which transported the Brazilians, at Village Cay Marina. Henley stamped the passports of the foreigners.
The crown is alleging that on January 14, 2011 an unknown number of Brazilians entered the Territory in an unknown vessel. On January 20 following intelligence gathering, it was disclosed that there was a boat in Cane Garden Bay going to the USVI. The US law enforcement agencies intercepted the vessel and subsequently three persons were apprehended on January 21.
During an interview with US authorities, the Brazilians admitted that they were given leave to enter the Territory by an Immigration Officer, who stamped their passports. Following examination of the passports, it was revealed that the signature of Brian Henley was affixed to the passports.
The three were detained for illegal entry and a fourth person was found, who also had a BVI immigration stamp. Henley's signature also appeared on that person's passport.
Following this, an investigation was launched by the local police to see if these persons were ever cleared by Customs, but it was discovered that this was not the case.
Meanwhile, on February 10, 13 Brazilian nationals entered the Territory on a vessel MV 'Paint In Black' at Village Cay Marina, which is no gazetted port of entry.
It is alleged that Henley was contacted and he went to Village Cay to meet the Brazilians, but after he realized he had to get the vessel cleared by Customs, he contacted Fahie.
After the vessel was cleared, Henley applied BVI immigration stamps on their passports and used a private taxi to take them to a Cane Garden Bay hotel.
On February 11, Customs and Immigration responded to an anonymous tip regarding the Brazilians and went to the hotel and immediately took them into custody.
L-R: Immigration Officer Brian Henley and Customs Officer Clarence Fahie
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
As a result of what was told to lawmen by the persons during an interview, Customs and Immigration conducted an internal investigation.
At the time, Henley was questioned and he denied clearing or putting stamps on the Brazilians' passports. However, speaking subsequently to Chief Immigration Officer Dennis Jennings, Henley said he did clear the vessel and placed stamps on the passports of the Brazilians, but alleged that he was assisted by Customs Officer Fahie.
According to the crown, to this date Jennings has not been provided with requisite papers by Henley to show that they were properly cleared.
Police did a search in the immigration system and found no proper clearance for the 13 persons and at the Customs Road Town Harbour terminal, there were no records to show that the vessel was filed or cleared.
The crown has stated that it is the policy of the Customs Department that if a vessel wants to be cleared at an area that is not a gazetted port, there must be granted permission by the Commissioner of Customs, Wade Smith and Chief Immigration Officer, Dennis Jennings. In this instance, no such clearance was granted.
It is alleged that the vessel 'Paint in Black' is registered in St. Maarten and with the assistance of intelligence gathering from US authorities, it was revealed that the four Brazilians in the January incident and the 13 in February paid $1,000.00 each to get BVI immigration stamps on their passports.