Joran van der Sloot has landed in the United States, where he is accused of extorting money from the mother of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen who was last seen with the Dutch national and two others 18 years ago in Aruba.
FBI agents flew with van der Sloot on a US Department of Justice plane to an airport in Birmingham, Alabama, where he landed Thursday afternoon.
He was taken to a jail in Birmingham, not far from Holloway’s hometown of Mountain Brook.
He will be arraigned in federal court in Birmingham on Friday at 11 a.m. CT, according to court records.
Van der Sloot was indicted in 2010 on US federal charges of extortion and wire fraud in connection with a plot to sell information about the whereabouts of Holloway’s remains in exchange for $250,000, according to an indictment filed in the Northern District of Alabama.
An FBI-operated plane carrying Joran van der Sloot arrives at the Birmingham International Airport, Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Birmingham, Alabama. - Butch Dill/AP
The missing 18-year-old’s mother, Beth Holloway, wired $15,000 to a bank account van der Sloot held in the Netherlands and through an attorney gave him another $10,000 in person, the indictment states. Once he had the initial $25,000, van der Sloot showed the attorney, John Kelly, where Natalee Holloway’s remains allegedly were hidden, but the information turned out to be false, the indictment states.
Holloway’s remains have never been found and in 2012, a judge in Alabama signed an order that declared her legally dead.
Agents arrived in Peru – where van der Sloot is imprisoned for the murder of another woman – on Wednesday afternoon, a law enforcement source familiar with the operation told CNN.
The FBI used one of its planes in what it calls a foreign transfer of custody operation. Typically, the team comprises two FBI special agent pilots, at least one additional auxiliary crew member, and several agents providing security for the prisoner. In many long-haul flights, a medic also accompanies the team.
Prisoners are watched and wear restraints the entire time. The flight from Lima to Birmingham on the Gulfstream 550 took about six and a half hours.
Van der Sloot was seen leaving the Ancón 1 prison in Lima early Thursday, as he was driven away in a black van while in the custody of law enforcement. He arrived at Peru’s Air Force Base Grupo where officials have said he is expected to be handed over to the FBI.
Peru initially agreed to extradite van der Sloot to the US to face those charges only after he serves his murder sentence. But last month, the country changed course and agreed to temporarily transfer him to face the US charges, after which he would be returned to Peru, the country’s judiciary said.
Peru agreed to van der Sloot’s “temporary relocation to the United States, because he is condemned here and he must serve his sentence here,” Justice Minister Daniel Maurate said. “But since the US needs him in order to face trial, and the authorities told us that if he didn’t get there sooner, the case against him could be dropped because the witnesses are elderly.”
On Wednesday, the superior court in Lima, Peru, ordered van der Sloot to be handed over to FBI agents, according to a statement published on social media on Tuesday.
“With this resolution, the Judge has completed procedures for the transfer (passive extradition) of Joran Van Der Sloot, who will be prosecuted in the United States of America for the alleged crimes of extortion and fraud against Elizabeth Ann Holloway,” the statement concludes.
The announcement comes a day after an attorney for van der Sloot filed a habeas corpus petition against his client’s temporary transfer from a Peru prison to the US. Maximo Altez, an attorney for van der Sloot, argued his transfer should be stopped as he had not been notified officially, according to court documents dated June 5.
The petition seems to contradict previous statements by Altez. On May 30, he told CNN en Espanol his client had agreed to be transferred and he was not expected to submit a habeas corpus application. “I want to go to the US,” van der Sloot told Altez in a letter.
CNN has tried to reach Altez for further comment.
Van der Sloot has been held at the Ancón 1 prison in Peru after he was convicted in 2012 of murdering Stephany Flores, 21, in his Lima hotel room. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Holloway was last seen alive with van der Sloot and two other men leaving a nightclub in Aruba 18 years ago.
Police in Aruba arrested and released the three men – van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe – multiple times in 2005 and 2007 in connection with Holloway’s disappearance. Attorneys for the men maintained their innocence throughout the investigation.
In December 2007, the Aruban Public Prosecutor’s Office said none of the three would be charged and dropped the cases against them, citing insufficient evidence.
CNN’s Jean Casarez, Florencia Trucco, Jimena de la Quintana and Claudia Rebaza contributed to this report.
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