The British socialite, who lived with Epstein for years and was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world, is in custody after being arrested on the US East Coast.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Maxwell would be charged over her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of girls by Epstein.
She is expected to appear in a federal court later today, the FBI said. The arrest was first reported by NBC.
An indictment made public on Thursday claims Maxwell, the daughter of media baron Robert Maxwell, “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” girls under the age of 18.
It includes counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury.
Epstein killed himself in prison in Manhattan in August last year while awaiting trial for sex trafficking offences.
He had been arrested in New York following allegations that he was running a network of underage girls - some as young as 14 - for sex. In 2008, he was found guilty of procuring an underage girl for prostitution.
Maxwell, who was arrested in New Hampshire, has kept a low profile since Epstein's death. Some of his alleged victims say Maxwell brought them into his circle to be sexually abused by him and his friends.
One, Virginia Giuffre, has said in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell recruited her into Epstein’s circle when she was 15. She claims Epstein forced her to have sex with him and friends, including British royal Prince Andrew – who has strongly denied the allegations.
Maxwell has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish”.
She said Giuffre’s allegations were untrue. In response, Giuffre filed a defamation suit against Maxwell in 2015.
Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking enterprise.
She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.
Earlier this year, Maxwell sued Epstein's estate seeking reimbursement for legal fees and security costs. She "receives regular threats to her life and safety", court documents in that case.