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The FBI has conducted a raid on accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s private island, according to reports, as two guards assigned to watch the disgraced financier before his apparent suicide in prison were put on administrative leave.
Federal officials were seen spreading across the island of Little St James by US vessels and on golf carts, just two days after the disgraced financier died of an apparent suicide in a New York prison.
Epstein was facing new sex trafficking and conspiracy charges over allegations he operated an international child sex trafficking ring. The 66-year-old was set to stand trial next year and was facing 45 years in jail if convicted.
Kelly Quinn, who was operating a sailing charter near Epstein’s private island at the time of the raid, told NBC News: “We were just trying to look at pretty fish and swim with turtles and here we are in the middle of an FBI raid.”
“This has been something on our radar for years,” she added. “We’re all really curious why it’s happening now.”
The property, which sits between the larger St Thomas and St John islands, has been dubbed “paedophile island”. Epstein had been accused of trafficking girls who were as young as 12 to his sprawling facilities on the island.
A drone flying over Epstein’s residence managed to record the FBI raid. The recording, which was posted to YouTube, shows agents inside a room seemingly going through belongings.
The agents later notice the drone and begin shielding their operations with cardboard boxes placed along the windows.
News of the FBI raid came as the US Justice Department announced that the warden for the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York – where Epstein was being held when he died – had been temporarily reassigned.
At least two guards who were on duty at the time of Epstein’s death on Saturday have also been placed on leave, the department said in a statement.
The correctional facilities showed “serious irregularities” at the time of Epstein’s death, attorney general William Barr said, adding that the Justice Department and FBI were continuing with their investigations into the death of the disgraced financier.
Donald Trump told reporters he wanted a “full investigation” into Epstein’s death.
“That’s what I absolutely am demanding,” he said. “That’s what our attorney general, our great attorney general, is doing. He’s doing a full investigation.”