Victory Inn’s human trafficking trial begins; the feds call it a “drug-fueled brothel under one roof”

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Five years after the Victory Inn on Michigan Avenue was raided by federal government and local police, the first of the cases will go to trial in federal court in Detroit.

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The alleged mastermind, Darrick Bell, had been on the run for nearly three years. The alleged executor Harold Nero was also on the federal government’s most wanted list. He was captured.

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COVID-19 has also delayed cases. The hotel has since been demolished.

This case and the attention it generates could help other women who feel trapped and forgotten in human trafficking operations large and small that take place every day, said Karen Moore, executive director of Sanctum House.

“It’s a really big deal and it puts a face to what’s really going on,” Moore said.

This non-profit organization has saved 90 women over the past 4 years from other cases.

“They get away with it because they know what to look for. And they know how to hide it,” Moore said.

At the Victory Inn, the feds say they rescued 14 women, and another 80 women came from the streets to get their fix of drugs and cash.

The allegations are that the women were trafficked, forced and coerced into performing with cocaine and heroin for at least two years. Five women are to testify at trial. The evidence includes 33 hours of video from eight surveillance cameras inside the hotel.

The trial is expected to last about a week.

Elna M. Lemons