Feds portray Victory Inn as drug-riddled brothel
Detroit — A convicted drug dealer from Detroit had free rein at the Victory Inn, a “den of iniquity” where the cocaine, heroin and flesh were sold with help from motel staff, federal agents said.
A federal complaint charging convicted felon Michael Randol with drug conspiracy and sex trafficking crimes chronicles life inside the motel and helps explain a high-profile raid Thursday by 150 law-enforcement personnel at the inn on Michigan Avenue on the city’s west side.
Court records describe a criminal enterprise run by several men that involved sex trafficking and drug activity at the 42-room, two-story motel, a place one investigator called a “den of iniquity.” In 2016, the Detroit Police Department made 115 runs to the motel, which was the site of two shootings, several aggravated assaults and two homicides linked to motel guests.
Randol, 41, is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday. If convicted, Randol could face up to 30 years in prison.
The investigation dates to September when U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Jeremy Forys received a tip that women were being prostituted at the motel.
Forys was told a possible victim of human trafficking was being treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital after ingesting heroin.
The victim said she was carrying heroin for a pimp and drug dealer “Tone,” who oversaw a group of eight prostitutes at the motel. The woman swallowed the heroin after being confronted by law enforcement, according to the complaint.
Tone gave drugs to the prostitutes so they would continue to have sex with customers, the victim told Homeland Security.
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 the complaint.
Tipster leads to ‘The Man’
The next month, in October, a confidential informant bought crack cocaine several times from a drug dealer in Room 216 at the motel, according to investigators.
The dealer, who went by the nicknames “Man” and “The Man,” also sold drugs out of rooms 218 and 220, according to the complaint.
According to court records, The Man is Randol.
Randol, whose court-appointed lawyer has not filed an appearance, has a long criminal history, including convictions for stolen property, breaking and entering, drug and weapons crimes.
A second source said he had purchased heroin from The Man in Room 216 and watched him cut chunks of cocaine from a larger brick at the motel, according to the complaint.
By late October, the federal investigation was intensifying.
Agents again interviewed the female victim who reiterated that Victory Inn’s owner and staff were aware of the drug deals and human trafficking, according to Forys.
“(Tone), the alleged pimp and drug dealer, paid more for motel rooms than other customers,” the woman told agents, “and in exchange, hotel employees would direct potential prostitution clients to rooms rented by (Tone),” Forys wrote.
Victory Inn is part of a national chain of motels in Arizona, Ohio and Michigan, including Detroit, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Mount Clemens, Muskegon, Roseville, Southfield and Warren.
The Detroit motel is owned by Southfield-based Star Lodge LLC. The corporation’s resident agent is Jamal Garmo, according to state business records.
Garmo could not be reached for comment.
Staffer criticizes raid
A hotel employee, who requested anonymity, denied Monday that staff were aware of drug activity or sex trafficking. The area around the hotel, which includes a topless bar next door, is frequented by prostitutes.
“The girls are standing outside in broad daylight and the police drive right by them — honest to God,” the employee said. “But then they want to raid the hotel?
“We see the prostitutes, but they don’t put the rooms in their names. We don’t know what goes on in these rooms. We’re not the police.”
Hotel staff tried unsuccessfully to have Detroit police crack down on illegal activity, the employee said.
“They told us to quit calling. They said we call too much,” the employee said.
On Nov. 22, an informant allegedly watched Randol “cook up” crack cocaine in one of the motel rooms, according to court records.
The next day, another confidential informant said multiple drug dealers were operating out of the motel, including Man.
The informant said “there are girls working as prostitutes who are paid with heroin or crack cocaine,” the agent wrote.
Last month, agents launched undercover surveillance at the motel.
On Dec. 1, investigators arrived at the red-brick motel on Michigan Avenue, east of Wyoming, for a six-hour surveillance shift.
“Numerous hand-to-hand deals believed to be drug-related were observed at room 118, room 119, room 215, room 217, room 218 and room 219,” Forys wrote. “Many individuals were also seen visiting those rooms at the hotel, arriving on foot as well as by vehicle and leaving after being inside for only (a) short time.”
That night, investigators stopped multiple vehicles leaving the motel. A female passenger had drug paraphernalia and a story.
She bought $30 worth of crack, the latest in a series of purchases over the last few months. One of the drug dealers was named Man, and operated out of Room 203.
The same night, investigators stopped a second car after the driver parked outside the motel, visited Room 218 and left minutes later.
The man possessed crack cocaine and admitted buying the drug several times from men living at the motel.
“When asked how he knew he could get drugs at Victory Inn..., the driver stated that it was common knowledge and that you could ask any girl ‘working’ Michigan Avenue where to get drugs and they would tell you, ‘at Victory Inn,’ ” the agent wrote.
Investigators stopped a third vehicle that night after watching three passengers enter Room 118. Each passenger had drug paraphernalia and the driver said they smoked crack with a “hooker” in Room 118.
On Dec. 20, investigators again set up surveillance outside the motel. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., investigators saw lots of alleged drug and prostitution activity and short-term visitor traffic at several rooms.
One visitor was questioned and told investigators about “a continuing drug and prostitution operation run by five or six individuals who are in concert with each other and use Victory Inn to conduct business,” Forys wrote.
The visitor believed a drug dealer named Man was in charge, lived in Room 220 and sold heroin and cocaine out of Room 219, according to court records.
Two days after Christmas, and again on Dec. 29, agents resumed their surveillance and spotted more alleged drug and prostitution activity at Victory Inn, according to court records.
The activity appeared to be concentrated in Room 103. An informant said a dealer nicknamed Man sold drugs and women at the motel, most recently out of room 201.
Man also stored drugs in a second room.
The informant knew of as many as seven women who regularly performed commercial sex dates at Victory Inn, and had seen prostitutes overdose on drugs at the motel, according to court records.
Holiday season crackdown
On Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, Detroit emergency medical technicians responded to a drug overdose at Room 222 at Victory Inn.
And on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas, Detroit police responded to a drug overdose at a nearby hotel in Dearborn. A woman was pronounced dead at the scene and her boyfriend said she ingested drugs purchased at Room 118 at Victory Inn earlier that day.
“The female victim’s boyfriend said that they both had purchased drugs from men at Victory Inn many times in the past to include cocaine, heroin and Xanax,” Forys wrote.
The investigation culminated Thursday after U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen signed a federal warrant to search Victory Inn.
During the raid, agents found Randol in Room 201 and watched him allegedly toss and discard drugs from a second-floor window, the agent wrote.
Investigators recovered the items: 35 grams of crack cocaine, court records show.
The raid also netted at least one firearm, drugs, drug paraphernalia, dozens of cellphones and several victims of human trafficking, according to the complaint.
“Several of the human trafficking victims confirmed that the members of the above described criminal organization, including Randol, controlled, directed and participated in the prostitution and drug distribution activities at the Victory Inn,” Forys wrote.
Agents arrested a second man at the hotel, Bryant Daugherty, 45, a convicted sex offender who was found in room 203 with a woman. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm found near the nightstand.
Randol, meanwhile, was quiet, polite and protective of hotel staff, the employee said Monday.
“He’s very courteous. I never had a problem with him,” the employee said. “If a clerk is having a problem with another guest, he’ll protect us. We’re scared. We’re just here to do our job and go home.”