Jeffrey Epstein has died, but officials still have quite a bit of work ahead of them; specifically, searching the contents of the private island on which he was said to have trafficked many of his victims.
On Monday, the FBI descended on the island Little St. James, located in the Virgin Island and purchased by Epstein in 1998 for $7.95 million. According to NBC, law enforcement tried to raid the island in the past, but were unsuccessful in carrying it out.
“Pedophile Island,” as locals called it, featured a 24,000-square-foot private residence, two pools, a spa, and a mysterious blue and white building that spurred plenty of online speculation. One former employee who worked on Epstein’s island from 1999 to 2006 said he often saw young women there, and that the main residence housed a sizable collection of photos of topless girls.
In addition to being his primary residence, reports also say the island served as the epicenter of Epstein’s sex trafficking ring. According to an explainer compiled by The Cut, Epstein reportedly had a dedicated team of workers who flew girls as young as 12 into St. Thomas, to be ferried to Little St. James in a private boat and trafficked to his clients:
Once on the island, the underage girls and women say they were coerced into sexual encounters and, in some cases, even held hostage. Sarah Ransome, who claims Epstein instructed her to have sex with lawyer Alan Dershowitz when she was in her 20, said she tried to swim off the island, only to be found by a search party that included Epstein and his alleged madame Ghislaine Maxwell. (Dershowitz claims that he has never met Ransome). She also said that they kept her passport so she couldn’t leave — a ruthless tactic they allegedly used in an attempt to hold more than one victim against their will. In a 2015 defamation lawsuit filed against Maxwell, the house manager for one of Maxwell’s close friends testified that a “distraught” 15-year-old Swedish girl told him that Maxwell had taken away her passport and tried to force her to have sex with Epstein while she was on the island. (In a statement, a spokesperson for his former employer called this claim “demonstrably false and defamatory.”)
As FBI agents fanned across the island, Attorney General William Barr said Epstein’s co-conspirators “should not rest easy.”
“The victims deserve justice and they will get it,” he added.