A Detroit hotel that was raided in January as part of a human sex trafficking investigation was heavily damaged by a suspicious fire late Monday night.
Firefighters were called to the Victory Inn on Michigan Avenue on the city’s west side, where federal agents on Jan. 12 seized cocaine and heroin and rescued as many as 20 women who were drugged, tortured and forced to have sex with customers, according to court documents.
Flames were tearing through the building when firefighters arrived. Arson investigators were on the scene, scouring the area for evidence.
A judge ordered the closure of the motel on Jan. 27 because it had become a public nuisance.
About 150 law enforcement officers were involved in the raid.
Court records allege several men took over the 42-room motel and set up a sex trafficking and drug dealing operation. Investigators said that leaders of the enterprise confined as many as 20 women to the filthy motel, forcing them to have sex with customers.
Accused pimp and drug dealer Shelvie “Q” Avery, 50, was arrested two weeks ago after being on the loose. Authorities are still on the hunt for other alleged leaders of the enterprise.
No injuries were reported from the fire.
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Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.