Posted on April 4, 2017
Sex trafficking ring's 'Dragon Lady' ordered held with no bond
DETROIT — The Detroit Free Press reports in its online edition this morning that a 40-year-old motel manager from Macomb Township was ordered to be held without bond on sex trafficking charges during a federal court hearing Monday.
She was arrested on Jan. 12 during one of the largest sex trafficking raids in Detroit history, and the Free Press story began by saying: "The sex slaves called her “The Dragon Lady” of Victory Inn, a violent, gun-toting motel manager who federal prosecutors say helped run a drug and sex-trafficking ring."
“She was essentially responsible for managing the human misery that went on at the Victory Inn,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Jawad told U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub, according to the Free Press story. Accusations from federal prosecutors against the Victory Inn's motel manager, Janette Tawfik, emerged Monday for the first time during a dramatic federal court hearing that featured surveillance video of life inside Detroit's Victory Inn where prostitutes, cocaine and heroin were sold with help from Tawfik's motel staff, according to prosecutors.
Tawfik faces up to life in prison if convicted of sex trafficking charges. She also faces drug charges after being indicted five days earlier with five others on drug conspiracy charges. Federal agents say the raid came after an investigation uncovered a "sophisticated criminal organization with a hierarchy, lookouts and a body count." They say the drug and sex-trafficking operation at the 42-room hotel left only two rooms available for legitimate customers.
Tawfik is accused of using a gun to keep prostitutes at the motel to service customers. The raid allowed federal agents to rescue 14 women who were being forced to work there as prostitutes. It was revealed in asking Monday for no bond Monday that agents had obtained statements against ring members by sex trafficking victims and that the conspiracy by the ring had led to "many deaths."
Federal prosecutors have also alleged that motel manager Tawfik was romantically involved with convicted murderer and alleged drug deal Darrick “Tone” Bell. The 48-year-old Bell is accused of running the sex-trafficking ring at the motel and federal agents are still looking for Bell and one other man who was indicted in the case — Harold Nero.
Tawfik has hired prominent Detroit area attorney Michael Friedman who said in court Monday that his client carried a properly registered gun because the motel is in a dangerous location along Michigan Avenue near the Dearborn-Detroit border. Friedman said his client was a $500 per week room clerk employee and he denied she was romantically involved with Bell. Friedman added that statements from drug-addicted prostitutes are not credible enough to convict Tawfik of any crime.
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The Daily Gazette
April 4, 2017