U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced this week the arrest of the country’s most wanted human trafficker at a Detroit hotel.
As part of one of the largest anti-trafficking operations in the city’s history, special agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the arrest of the leader of a sophisticated human trafficking and narcotics distribution network, officials said in a statement.
Darrick Bell, 48, also known as “Tone” or “Ghost,” was wanted since he escaped a raid in January 2017.
Authorities found Bell, allegedly the leader of the drug and sex trafficking network operating in Victoria Inn motel, with $12,000 and cocaine at the Monroe Econo Lodge.
The indictment alleges that Bell, along with his conspirators, formed and operated a massive human trafficking and narcotics distribution network from various rooms in the motel.
Women were allegedly forced, through threats, coercion and isolation, to act as sex workers for Bell and other defendants, while a wide range of illegal drugs were allegedly available elsewhere in the motel.
The investigation revealed that the women lived mainly in the motel and were forced to hand over 100% of the profits to Bell and his cronies.
About 150 agents from various organizations raided the Victory Inn in January 2017, finding victims of human trafficking, drugs, a gun, and dozens of cellphones.
Bell, who was charged along with five other individuals on 9 counts, allegedly escaped from the inn just before the 2017 raid.
“By adding Tone to the HSI Most Wanted List, we make the world a much smaller place for him to hide,” said Steve Francis, acting special agent in charge of HSI Detroit.
“We’re confident that Tone’s capture will empower the survivors of his alleged acts, and embolden others who are facing similar circumstances to come forward, knowing that they will be fully supported and that their captors will face justice,” he added.
The alleged trafficker now faces charges of human trafficking, money laundering, extortion and conspiracy, among others, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Victoria Inn Motel was demolished over the weekend.