MIAMI (AP) _ A lawyer for the chief minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands says Norman Saunders has written a resignation letter, but a political colleague in his homeland said it never arrived there.

Neal Lewis, representing Saunders here on narcotics conspiracy and other charges, quoted his client's letter as saying in part: ''I am resigning for the good of the party and of the people of Turks and Caicos ... I feel that my problems should not interfere with the functioning of the government.''

However, Nathaniel Francis, the leader of the Progressive National Party of which Saunders is a member, said in a telephone interview from Grand Turk that Saunders ''has not resigned and given no indication that he will resign.''

Asked about the purported letter, Francis said, ''I'm not going to commit myself on that, but I would be surprised.''

Saunders, the highest elected official of the British colony 575 miles southeast of Miami, declined comment. Angel Montalvo, spokesman for the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where the chief minister was being held, said Saunders ''has been asked about the situation and is not talking.''

Saunders, 41, first elected chief minister in 1980, was arrested here March 5 along with Stafford Missick, 47, minister of commerce and development for the islands; Aulden Smith, 33, the territory's parliamentary secretary and junior minister of works; and Andre Fournier, 46, a French Canadian businessman.

Saunders is being held under $2 million bond; the other two officials under $1 million each; and Fournier at $5 million. A hearing is set for Monday for the defendants, who are seeking lower bonds.