Detroit – Authorities have captured one of the alleged leaders of a criminal enterprise accused of drugging, torturing and forcing women to have sex with customers at the Victory Inn motel.
Accused pimp and drug dealer Shelvie “Q” Avery, 50, of Detroit, is charged with sex trafficking, drug conspiracy, criminal enterprise and other crimes, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court. If convicted, he could face 20 years or longer in prison.
Avery was arrested Friday in Detroit by city police and Homeland Security Investigations.
He had been hunted by investigators since Jan. 12. That’s when a mix of federal, state and local investigators raided the motel, rescued 14 women and uncovered a sophisticated criminal organization with a hierarchy, lookouts and a body count.
The alleged criminal enterprise includes at least one convicted killer and felons with weapons convictions who overtook the 42-room motel — leaving two rooms for legitimate customers, The Detroit News has learned.
The inside story behind one of the largest law enforcement raids in Detroit history that shuttered a drug-riddled motel agents likened to a brothel.
As many as 20 women were forced to live in inhumane conditions and have sex with customers in motel rooms that cost $55 per night — or $35 for three hours.
Avery is described as the second-highest ranking person involved in the alleged criminal enterprise. The alleged leader, a man nicknamed “Tone,” and at least three other men are being hunted by federal agents.
Avery lived at the motel and was the on-site leader, said Jeremy Forys, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent who helped plan the Victory Inn raid.
Avery has a long criminal record, and good timing.
His rap sheet dates to 1990 and includes convictions for drugs, stolen property, fleeing police and larceny.
“Several of the human trafficking victims confirmed that the members of the above described criminal organization, including Avery, controlled, directed, and participated in the prostitution and drug distribution activities at the Victory Inn,” Forys wrote in a court filing.
Avery was spotted at the motel in room 214 the morning of the raid. At 5:40 a.m., about 20 minutes before agents started breaking down motel room doors, armed with a search warrant, Avery left Victory Inn, according to court records.
“Law enforcement discovered extensive evidence of drug use and distribution inside room 214,” Forys wrote. “Preliminary review of the Victory Inn’s video recordings shows hundreds of apparent drug transactions and widespread prostitution, and Avery being involved m both activities.”
Avery is at least the third person arrested in connection with the sex-trafficking case.
Convicted sex offender Bryant Daugherty, 45, an eight-time felon from Detroit, and another felon, Michael Randol, are being held without bond and facing charges in federal court.
Federal investigators called Victory Inn a “den of iniquities” where the cocaine, heroin and flesh were sold with help from motel staff.
One victim said “Tone” oversaw a group of eight prostitutes at the motel. He fed the women drugs so they would continue to have sex with customers, the victim told Homeland Security agents.
The victim “was terrified ... because he had physically assaulted her on numerous occasions and that she believed that Victory Inn staff was aware of (Tone’s) illegal activities at the hotel,” Forys wrote in a court filing.
On Jan. 27, a Wayne County judge shuttered Victory Inn for one year after declaring the motel a public nuisance.
The raid along Michigan Avenue, east of Wyoming Avenue near the Dearborn border, came amid a continuing spike in human trafficking nationwide.
Almost 2,000 people were arrested nationwide by Homeland Security Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement last fiscal year. Those cases involved more than 400 victims.
Since 2010, there have been more than 7,000 arrests.