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Published On: Fri, Aug 2nd, 2019

ICE nabs Darrick Bell, Detroit’s ‘Most Wanted’ human trafficking, narcotics leader

ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service announced late Wednesday that the accused leader of a sophisticated human trafficking and narcotics distribution operation in Detroit was arrested this evening in Monroe, Michigan.

Darrick Bell, 50, aka Tone or Ghost, a U.S. citizen, was the subject of a nearly three-year manhunt, following the takedown of a large-scale human trafficking operation at the now-demolished Victory Inn Motel in Detroit. He was arrested late Wednesday at the Econo Lodge in Monroe. Authorities found nearly $12,000 and a quantity of suspected cocaine in Bell’s motel room. Authorities also arrested a female defendant who is facing drug charges.

Bell and five other defendants were charged in a 9-count indictment with trafficking in persons, drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion collection and conspiracy, among other charges. He allegedly absconded before nearly 200 law enforcement personnel descended on the Victory Inn in Detroit January 2017, in one the largest human trafficking enforcement operations in the city’s history. The sophisticated operation at the motel allegedly was manned by lookouts and armed enforcers.

HSI special agents and deputy U.S. Marshals are actively investigating persons who aided and abetted Bell to evade capture.

Darrick Bell

According to court records, Bell came to the attention of HSI special agents in September 2016, when one of his alleged victims escaped and special agents later confirmed he was operating out of the Victory Inn, which was ordered shuttered by a Wayne County judge in March, citing it as a nuisance. In 2016, the Detroit Police logged more than 115 calls to the location for crimes such as shootings, aggravated assaults and two homicides allegedly linked to former motel guests.

The indictment alleges that Bell, along with his co-conspirators, formed and operated a massive human trafficking and narcotics distribution operation out of multiple rooms at the now-shuttered motel. The women were allegedly exploited and abused by forcing them – through threats, coercion and isolation – to work as commercial sex workers for the financial benefit of Bell and other defendants, while a broad range of illegal drugs were allegedly available in other parts of the motel.

The investigation revealed the women primarily lived at the motel, where it is alleged they were forced to perform commercial sex acts forced to turn over the proceeds to Bell and his associates. The indictment and other court papers allege that the women gave the co-conspirators 100 percent of their earnings.

“By adding Tone to the HSI Most Wanted List, we make the world a much smaller place for him to hide,” said Steve Francis, HSI Detroit acting special agent in charge. “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.”

 

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