Ghislaine Maxwell was snagged after armed officers smashed down the door of her secret hideaway in a dramatic raid.
The suspect was marched away in handcuffs seconds after officers gained access to the lavish property in Bradford, New Hampshire, US, on Thursday morning.
The arrest ended a £4million “cat and mouse hunt” for Maxwell, during which she slipped through the net at least once.
But Maxwell, a close friend of Prince Andrew, now prepares for the possibility of life behind bars in one of New York’s toughest jails. She’s been charged with numerous offences, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Police used bolt-cutters to break the lock on a metal gate leading to the suspect’s secluded property. One of the officers said: “We drove at speed up the half-mile driveway in a convoy of 15 vehicles. And let’s just say, we didn’t knock politely on the door. It was smashed down.”
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the source added: “Maxwell was up and dressed, in the living room, wearing sweat pants and a top. Strangely she didn’t seem to have much reaction. It was like it wasn’t registering with her.
“She was turned around quickly and cuffed. She was in custody in a matter of seconds.”
Neighbours saw planes hover above the property for hours, now confirmed as a ploy police used to ensure the suspect didn’t flee before the bust.
Dick Morris, 59, a carpenter who lives opposite, said: “I heard what I first thought was a para plane, basically an engine with a seat and parachute, which is common around here. You hear one for ten minutes and it’s gone. But this went on and on.
“I went out to load my truck at 7am and the plane was still going. I thought, ‘What the heck is this guy doing buzzing around and around?’ I peered up through the trees and caught a glimpse of a small Cessna-type plane high up and buzzing in a wide circle.
“Then I noticed another plane so there were two of them, like opposite sides of a circle, this high-altitude circle of planes buzzing around and around.
“Later I realised it had to be the FBI making sure she didn’t leave before the raid team got there.”
It is now understood police had “been on Maxwell’s tail” for nearly one year, since Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a prison cell ahead of his trial for child prostitution and trafficking charges.
“This has taken millions of dollars and hundreds of man hours. At least five million bucks, maybe more,” another source told the publication.
“The FBI has been tracking her for a year. They had her, then they lost her. She was in Colorado and Wyoming then they lost her until she showed up in New Hampshire. It’s been a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.
“They had to build a case and put it in front of a grand jury. These things take time. She slipped through the net once but as soon as the grand jury came back with an indictment ten days ago, it was on.”
Maxwell is alleged to have committed the child sex offences on three victims, one aged just 14, between 1994 and 1997.
She denies the allegations and her defence team is understood to be “preparing for war”.
“‘They’ve had a year to anticipate this. She has money to put the best legal team in place.
“We anticipated this day would come. She’s in the fight of her life and not going down quietly. She insists she’s innocent and always has done,” the source added.