Top Island Leader in Drug Case Is Reported Quitting

United Press International

Chief Minister Norman B. Saunders, arrested last week in Miami on drug conspiracy charges, resigned Thursday, the state-owned radio announced. The government refused to verify the report.

A spokesman for Radio Turks and Caicos attributed the report to a reliable source but offered no further details.

Britain's administrator for the Caribbean island colony, Gov. Christopher Turner, would not confirm or deny the report.

Saunders, 41; Commerce Minister Stafford Missick, 47; Aulden Smith, 33, a junior minister of works; and Andre Fournier, 46, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, were indicted Thursday on 19 federal drug and conspiracy charges in an alleged plot to sue the islands as a drug stopover point.

Bond has been set at $5 million for Fournier, $2 million for Saunders, and $1 million each for Missick and Smith. All four are being held in a federal jail south of Miami.

They face possible sentences of up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fines.

The arrests capped a nine-month investigation conducted by U.S. agents and authorized by the British government.

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