FBI special agents arrived in Peru on Wednesday for the temporary transfer proceedings of Joran van der Sloot, a law enforcement source familiar with the operation told CNN.
US federal agents departed Birmingham, Alabama, for Lima on Wednesday morning on an executive jet used for foreign transfer of custody missions, the source said, and the team is expected to return to Alabama with van der Sloot on Thursday after he is turned over to US authorities.
Van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, is to be temporarily transferred Thursday from Peru to the US to face extortion and fraud charges, Peruvian officials have said.
The US extortion and wire fraud charges relate to allegations that he extorted money in 2010 from Holloway’s mother by offering bogus information about her daughter’s disappearance.
Van der Sloot is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence in Peru for the 2012 murder of Stephany Flores, 21, in his Lima hotel room. He is currently being held at the Ancón 1 prison in Peru.
Peru initially agreed to extradite van der Sloot to the US to face the extortion and wire fraud charges only after he serves his murder sentence. But last month, the country changed course and agreed to temporarily transfer him to the US to face the extortion and wire fraud 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.”
An attorney for van der Sloot argued Monday his transfer to the US should be stopped, but the Lima superior court ordered him to be handed over to FBI agents on Thursday.
Holloway was last seen alive with van der Sloot and two other men 18 years ago leaving a nightclub in Aruba.
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.
Holloway’s body has not been found. An Alabama judge signed an order in 2012 declaring her legally dead. No one is currently charged in her death.