Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch native charged with killing a Peruvian woman and extorting money from the mother of missing U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, may have even more legal problems ahead.
Earlier this month, the National Enquirer reported on van der Sloot’s alleged involvement in sex trafficking in Thailand. Now Peru’s minister of justice has confirmed that Thai authorities are pursuing criminal charges against van der Sloot, according to CBS News.
Some of the girls he allegedly approached have disappeared and have never been found, according to the Enquirer.
Though cautioning that it’s only supposition until Thai authorities finish their investigation, Harold Copus — a former FBI agent who was once hired to investigate the Holloway case by the “Dr. Phil” show — said van der Sloot is believed to have been a middle man.
“In the sex slave industry, the middle man would get a fee for getting the girls and moving them around,” said Copus, now head of Copus Security Consultants in Atlanta.
During his own investigation in Aruba, Copus heard rumors that “girls were taken out of Aruba to be used in the sex trade,” he said. “There was supposedly a guy from Chicago there, a reputed mobster, who has been quoted as saying that a good [sex slave] is worth a quarter of a million dollars.”
Copus told AOL News that while there is a possibility that Holloway, if kidnapped, was sold into slavery, he doubts she would still be alive today.
“Usually they’ll dope the girls up so they have no concept of what they are doing,” Copus explained, adding that once the women are deemed no longer useful, they often are killed.
“There is another seedy business out there called the snuff trade, where they sell or trade recordings of actual murders,” he said. “That’s the final exploitation.”
The National Enquirer’s report is not the first time van der Sloot’s name has come up during investigations into the illegal sex trade industry.
In 2008, Dutch journalist Peter de Vries secretly videotaped van der Sloot inside a Bangkok room with two young Thai women and two men who were posing as Dutch sex trade bosses. According to de Vries’ expose, van der Sloot told the women they would be working as models in Holland, but in actuality they would be delivered to the Dutch prostitution market and he would make several thousand dollars for each woman he delivered.
“He was in the process of recruiting girls for prostitution … that is what we saw [in the video],” Copus said. “What we didn’t see was what was going to happen if the girls didn’t want to be a prostitute. There’s a lot of concern here as to what his intentions were.”
Not long after the video aired, van der Sloot appeared on the Fox News program “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren.” During the interview, he told Van Susteren he had sold Holloway to a mysterious stranger on a boat for $9,600.
“He just handed me a bag, grabbed [Natalee] by the arm and he went to the boat that he had in the water,” van der Sloot said.
But like other confessions he allegedly has made, van der Sloot later contacted Van Susteren and said the story was a lie.
2 Cases, 1 Suspect
Police in Peru said Joran van der Sloot confessed to the May 30 killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman in his Lima hotel room. He retracted the statement, but a Peruvian judge upheld it and his attorney has promised to appeal. Van der Sloot has long been a suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in 2005.
Stephany Flores was reportedly seen with van der Sloot on May 29 at a Lima, Peru, casino, where he was said to have been participating in a poker tournament, and on May 30, at the hotel, where her body was found. Reports say the suspect became enraged after discovering Flores used his laptop and found he was connected to Holloway’s disappearance.
Hotel security camera footage released by Peruvian police showed van der Sloot leaving his hotel room alone on May 30. Earlier footage showed him arriving at the hotel with Flores. Van der Sloot faces charges of first-degree murder and robbery in Flores’ death. He is currently being held in Miguel Castro Castro, a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Lima.
Van der Sloot said he took cash from Flores’ wallet and went south to Chile, where he was later arrested. Here, Chilean police escort him out of a police station to be flown back to Peru on June 4.
Maria Elena Ramirez attends the funeral of her 21-year-old daughter, Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru, on June 3.
Holloway was 18 when she disappeared while vacationing with friends in Aruba. She was last seen with van der Sloot, who made multiple, varying confessions in the case that prosecutors said were a mixture of “lies and fantasy.” Authorities believe Holloway is dead, but her body has not been found.
Van der Sloot, center, and brothers Satish Kalpoe, left, and Deepak Kalpoe, right, were seen leaving a nightclub with Holloway. All three were arrested but not charged in the case. Van der Sloot reportedly told Peruvian authorities he would discuss the location of Holloway’s body with Aruban officials, but only if he gets a transfer to a prison in the Caribbean island.
Holloway, left, poses with friends on May 29, 2005, just hours before her disappearance. The young women were on the trip to celebrate their high school graduation and were due to return to the U.S. the next day. (Sources: AP, ABC News, CNN)
If charges are filed against van der Sloot in Thailand, authorities there will have to wait until Peruvian officials wrap up their case against him. The Dutchman is being held there on charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, who was found dead in van der Sloot’s Lima hotel room on June 2.
If convicted of Flores’ murder, van der Sloot faces 15 to 35 years in prison.
Van der Sloot has also been indicted by U.S. authorities for his alleged involvement in a plot to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s family for information on her death and the location of her body.
There has been some concern that a conviction in Peru could mean that van der Sloot won’t face charges in the U.S. or Thailand — in the event charges are also filed there — because of the statute of limitations. But that won’t be an issue, said Steve Cron, a veteran criminal defense attorney in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Assuming he is convicted [in Peru], these other countries are going to make arrangements to have him flown [in] to stand trial, with the understanding that he’ll be returned to Peru once the trials are over,” Cron told AOL News. “Then, once Peru is done with him, he’ll have to go serve out any other remaining sentences in the other countries.”
While van der Sloot’s freedom continues to remain in question, Cron believes one thing is certain: “This kid’s going to be facing a lot of legal battles in the coming years.”