THE FBI’s mega £4million operation to arrest Ghislaine Maxwell nearly failed after locals heard their planes circling from 5am.
One resident in New Hampshire said the FBI planes were “a nuisance” and a local even called the police on the federal agents.
British socialite Maxwell was arrested at her New Hampshire home on Thursday after a year-long probe into her association with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The 156-acre property was stormed by agents from the FBI as well as officers from the local police force, the NYPD, and New Hampshire’s gang task force.
But one local described how the operation was almost blown after planes circling overhead prompted neighbours to confront agents parked in the area.
He told the Mirror: “The planes had been buzzing around since 5am. They were a nuisance.
“We began calling each other to find out what the noise was about. Finally one snapped and drove down to where the vehicles were lined up.”
The man reportedly demanded to know who the agents were and what they were doing, and was told they were from the New England Aerial map society.
The man demanded to see inside the parked vans but was “harshly” told he couldn’t.
The local added: “The problem the FBI had was that the guy is an expert in maps and geology. It’s what he does for a living.
“He told his wife, and she called the police on the FBI – it was hilarious.”
Maxwell now faces six charges relating to sex trafficking and child abuse, though denies any wrongdoing.
Maxwell is the former girlfriend of Epstein, who killed himself in August while awaiting charges for the sex trafficking of minors.
Numerous Epstein accusers have claimed they were recruited and groomed by Maxwell before being abused by Epstein, while others have said she also took part in the abuse.
An officer who took part in the raid previously described how agents found Maxwell in her living room after “smashing down” her door.
“Let’s just say, we didn’t knock politely,” the officer told the Mail on Sunday.
“Strangely she didn’t seem to have much reaction. It was like it wasn’t registering with her.”
Sources familiar with the probe, which tracked Maxwell in a “game of cat and mouse” as she moved around the US, have said it took hundreds of man hours and around $4.9million (£3.92million).
The current charges against her relate to incidents that took place between 1994 and 1997 and involved three alleged victims, the youngest of whom was 14 at the time.
Maxwell faces 35 years in jail if convicted.