Audrey Strauss, acting USA attorney for the Southern District of NY, announced that Ghislaine Maxwell, a former associate of Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and perjury.
She was arrested in Bedford, New Hampshire, at around 8.30am on charges she conspired with Epstein to sexually abuse minors and is due to appear in court later on Thursday, NBC New York have reported.
Maxwell, the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, has kept a low profile since the death of Epstein, a financier who was accused of raping and trafficking underage girls over almost two decades.
The Washington Post reported in August that neighbours said Ms Maxwell had been living in a secluded oceanfront mansion in MA owned by a technology entrepreneur, Scott Borgerson, who declined to tell the newspaper whether Ms Maxwell had lived there with him.
Maxwell is accused of grooming Minor Victim-1 by taking her shopping and to the movies and by inquiring about the child's family and school life. She was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the "highest-ranking employee" of Epstein's alleged sex trafficking enterprise.
Epstein, who was also Jewish, killed himself in a federal detention centre in NY last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The arrest of the British socialite adds another twist in the mystery of Epstein, whose high-flying lifestyle included private Caribbean islands and powerful connections that his victims say allowed him to abuse minors with impunity. In addition to allegedly enabling and participating in the sexual abuse of young victims, Maxwell compounded her crimes by repeatedly lying in 2016 when she was questioned under oath.
"Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can't be hurt anymore".
Maxwell is facing up to life in prison for transporting a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.
"As a result of her disturbing and callous conduct, Maxwell now faces the very real prospect of serving many years in prison".
Maxwell aided Epstein by helping "normalize" the sexual abuse by her presence as a woman and feigning interest in and friendship with the girls, Strauss said at the news conference. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Maxwell that she said was taken at the time.
Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents Giuffre and several other Epstein victims said his clients were relieved by the charges.
That abuse included sexualized massages, during which the minor victim was fully or partially nude.
Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.
"Through this process, Maxwell and Epstein enticed victims to engage in sexual activity with Epstein". The perjury charge stems from her 2016 testimony during a case that was pending in NY.