Setting the Record Straight
FACT vs. FICTION
“The FBI had Joran van der Sloot in Aruba and somehow gave him money and let him escape to Peru, where he brutally murdered 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez in Peru.” This is but one of some of the uneducated and uninformed statements made in this matter, thereby creating the false impression for the media and for the public that the FBI had facilitated van der Sloot’s travels and allowed him to travel unabated to Peru. This couldn’t be further from the truth, but somehow saying so seems to meet the personal needs of those making such statements.
The reality is that Joran van der Sloot approached the family of missing American teenager Natalee Holloway and suggested that for a fee of $250,000 he could provide the family with the location of Holloway’s remains in Aruba as well as provide the details of her last hours and her death. In April 2010 the Holloway family made van der Sloot’s approach known to the FBI who, in corporation with Aruban and Dutch authorities, eventually set up a kind of “sting operation” in Aruba wherein a meeting between a Holloway family attorney and van der Sloot in Aruba was monitored by the authorities. At this time van der Sloot was provided with $10,000 cash (not FBI or US Government money) and a $15,000 wire transfer was made in his name as a down payment for his information and cooperation in this matter. The Aruban authorities, at the request of the FBI, were able to determine that van der Sloot’s information was false, i.e., Holloway’s remains could not have been buried where van der Sloot’s alleged they were (the concrete had been poured at that location prior to Holloway's disappearance), therefore a potential extortion and wire fraud violation under U.S. law existed.
Like in any similar investigation, FBI Agents, working in this case with the US Attorney’s office in Birmingham, Alabama, developed the elements of the federal crime and assembled investigative information to present to a future grand jury in their efforts to seek an indictment of van der Sloot for extortion and wire fraud. As there was some question as to whether the Aruban government would extradite van der Sloot for an extortion charge, the second charge of wire fraud, an extraditable offense, was also developed. As van der Sloot had a history of lying concerning his involvement in Holloway’s disappearance, and as Aruban authorities had basically ceased to believe anything he said, it would be necessary for the FBI to fully develop its case against van der Sloot, to include a grand jury indictment, to insure that one, he could be extradited, and two, that the investigation would have every hope of seeing him convicted in the US of these crimes.
I note that because van der Sloot had not committed a known criminal offense in the past five years (this since the disappearance of Holloway), the FBI and the US Attorney’s office probably did not have a tremendous sense of urgency in putting together the case against him. Most know that for purposes of seeking international extradition, it is usually far better to have a criminal grand jury indictment against a subject rather than a warrant based upon a criminal complaint. It was for this reason that the government’s involved proceeded in a methodical manner to bring van der Sloot to justice in this matter and, hopefully, to also find out what actually happen to Holloway. Based upon the above, there was no way that the FBI or Aruban authorities could have known that van der Sloot would travel to Peru, or, of course, commit any type of crime in that country, much less the murder of Flores Ramirez.
As far as van der Sloot’s actions in Aruba, to include those in furtherance of the US based extortion and wire fraud, the FBI does not have the authority to either arrest someone outside of America and its possessions and territories, nor can the FBI conduct an independent investigation, to include the interview of foreign nationals, without the cooperation of host country authorities. For someone to suggest that the FBI should have arrested van der Sloot suggests complete ignorance of international law and investigative cooperation between nations and governments.
When van der Sloot’s possible involvement in the murder of Flores Ramirez became known to the FBI and the Birmingham US Attorney, a complaint was authorized and a federal warrant, based upon this complaint, was issued for the suspect’s arrest for extortion and wire fraud. The federal warrant would, of course, allow US authorities to assist Peruvian and Aruban authorities in their ongoing and separate investigations concerning van der Sloot and would help to preserve the investigative interest of the FBI in this subject.
There was no way in which the murder of Flores Ramirez could have been anticipated and, therefore, no reason for the FBI not to have proceeded in the manner in which it did in their investigation concerning van der Sloot. Twenty-twenty hindsight could suggest that the funds provided van der Sloot by the Holloway family could have facilitated his eventual travel to Peru, but again, this money was provided him in order to insure that the elements of the crimes of extortion and wire fraud were met for purposes of his eventual indictment, extradition, and, hopefully, his trial in US District Court in Birmingham. It is extremely sad that van der Sloot allegedly committed this terrible crime in Peru, but there was no way that either the Holloway family or the FBI could have predicted his actions in this matter.
The criminal complaint against van der Sloot will eventually be replaced with an indictment for the crimes for which he is a suspect, but with the murder charges against him in Peru, charges related to Flores Ramirez, will need to be resolved before he could ever face charges in America.
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