United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST
FOR PRETRIAL RELEASE AND DENYING THE GOVERNMENT'S MOTION
TO SUPPLEMENT THE RECORD (Dkt. 40) AS MOOT
A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge
jury indicted Defendant Janette Tawfik on six charges
stemming from her alleged role in an extensive human
trafficking and drug-distribution conspiracy at the Victory
Inn hotel (the “Victory Inn”) on Michigan Avenue
in Detroit, Michigan (Dkt. 17). Each charge carries a
statutory presumption of detention. Applying both sides'
proffered evidence to the factors in 18 U.S.C. §
3142(g), this Court finds that Tawfik has rebutted the
presumption of detention. Nevertheless, for the reasons
stated below, the Court orders Tawfik detained pending trial.
hearing, the magistrate judge found that Tawfik could not
overcome the presumption of detention and ordered her
detained because there is no “combination of conditions
that would reasonably assure the safety of the
community.” See Detention Order at 2 (Dkt.
28). Tawfik gave oral notice of her intent to seek pretrial
release from this Court, but did not file any written appeal
or motion. This Court held a hearing on her request for
pretrial release on April 6, 2017, at which both sides
proffered evidence. Following the hearing, this Court ordered
both sides to submit proposed orders (Dkt. 39), which they
The Government's Proffered Information
Government's primary argument is dangerousness, but it
also argues that Tawfik is a flight risk. The Government
proffered the following items to support detention: (i) the
pretrial services report recommending detention, (ii) 11
video clips from the Victory Inn's surveillance system,
(iii) eleven screen shots from the Government's pole
camera video, (iv) 13 independent victim and witness
statements - eight of which described Tawfik's criminal
involvement, and (v) the criminal histories of the
co-defendants. From these sources, the Government claimed
that the following facts support detention.
The Initial Investigation and Surveillance
federal investigation began in September 2016, when a human
trafficking and heroin overdose victim (“Victim
1”) told federal agents from Homeland Security
Investigations (“HSI”) about a conspiracy for the
sale of women and drugs at the Victory Inn, orchestrated by
Tawfik's co-defendant Darrick “Tone” Bell, a
convicted murderer and drug dealer with several firearms
convictions. Victim 1 stated that she had swallowed the drugs
to avoid detection, as ordered by Bell, leading to her
emergency room conversation with HSI agents.
subsequent interviews, Victim 1 confirmed that Bell is the
leader of the conspiracy, that he uses drugs to coerce the
human-trafficking victims, and that she was terrified of his
physical assaults. Victim 1 said that the Victory Inn staff
was part of the conspiracy and would direct sex dates to
human trafficking victim (“Victim 2”) described
an extensive drug and human-trafficking operation headed by
Bell, in which she and other women had been held against
their will for several weeks. Victim 2 stated that the
conspirators forced women to perform sex acts for money in
exchange for a room at Victory Inn and for drugs to support
their addictions. Victim 2 said that the Victory Inn staff
was complicit in the criminal activity, and that they only
use a handful of rooms at the hotel for legitimate customers.
November 3, 2016, Detroit Police and Detroit EMS responded to
a female drug overdose victim (“Victim 3”) in
room 118 at the Victory Inn. While assessing Victim 3,
Detroit Police talked to co-defendant Terry “T”
Pruitt at the door of room 118. On a Detroit Police bodycam
video, Pruitt casually discusses the fact that he can procure
prostitutes for customers.
November 4, 2016, Detroit police spoke to a female victim
(“Victim 4”) at a gas station near the Victory
Inn. Victim 4 stated that she was a prostitute who lived at
the Victory Inn and that Bell frequently delivered drugs to
the hotel. A few days later, HSI installed a nearby pole
camera to conduct surveillance on the Victory Inn.
November 23, 2016, a reliable confidential informant told
police that multiple drug dealers, including co-defendant
Shelvie Avery (also known as “Q”), were working
out of the Victory Inn. The informant said that Avery rents
rooms out of the Victory Inn to work as many as eight
prostitutes, and he sells heroin and crack cocaine. This
informant subsequently told police that the Middle Eastern
female manager (which accurately describes Tawfik) frequently
spoke with Avery in private.
early December, Detroit Police began conducting surveillance
at the Victory Inn along with HSI. They observed dozens of
apparent hand-to-hand drug deals and commercial sex dates in
several different rooms. The police performed traffic stops
on several customers who left after short stays, three of
whom attested to rampant drug and prostitution activity at
the Victory Inn.
6 was apprehended after attempting to flee the Victory Inn.
She admitted that she was a frequent resident of the Victory
Inn and lived with Avery. She admitted to prostituting
herself at the hotel to repay Avery, who sold her cocaine and
heroin. Victim 6 stated that Avery and others have as many as
20 female sex workers at the Victory Inn, and that the pimps
work for Bell. She also said that Bell delivers narcotics to
the hotel daily and collects cash from the previous day's
narcotics sales. Victim 6 also stated “a hotel manager
named Janette, ” i.e., Tawfik, is present during drug
and sex deals. Victim 6 further stated that Bell beat to
death a female known as “Juicy” for failing to
pay her drug debt.
December 26, 2016, Dearborn Police responded to a drug
overdose call for a woman at the Best Value Inn hotel in
Dearborn, Michigan, which is a few blocks from the Victory
Inn. The female victim (“Victim 7”) died at the
scene. Victim 7's boyfriend stated that she had ingested
drugs that they had purchased that day at the Victory Inn.
December 29, 2016, another reliable confidential informant
told police that multiple people, including Avery, were
selling drugs and “pimping” women at the Victory
Inn. This confidential informant said that Avery used several
rooms for selling cocaine and heroin that he gets from Bell,
as well as women. The confidential informant also stated they
saw Avery pay the “hotel manager Janette, ” i.e.,
Tawfik, large sums of money from the drug sales and
commercial sex. The informant further stated that Tawfik is
in a romantic relationship with Bell.
The January 2017 Search Warrant
January 12, 2017 at 6:00 a.m., HSI and local police executed
a federal search warrant for 25 rooms at the Victory Inn.
During the execution, agents rescued 14 lethargic female
human-trafficking victims who were suffering from drug
withdrawal in disheveled rooms. They arrested co-defendant
Michael “Man” Randol after he tossed 35 grams of
crack cocaine from a room window. Agents also recovered one
loaded firearm, narcotics, narcotics paraphernalia, and
dozens of cell phones. Most of the hotel rooms contained
extensive evidence of recent drug use (e.g., used needles,
used baggies, etc.). Agents also seized the Victory Inn's
encrypted video surveillance data from the hotel's
cameras, and records including thousands of handwritten room
rescuing the human-trafficking victims from the Victory Inn,
agents were able to interview some of them, who allegedly
confirmed that Tawfik - along with her
“boyfriend” Bell and the other co-defendants -
controlled, directed, and participated in the drug
distribution and prostitution schemes at the Victory Inn.
More than one victim stated that Tawfik abused them.
According to some, Tawfik was so abusive that the victims
referred to her as the “Dragon Lady.”
the search warrant, agents conducted independent interviews
with three other reliable sources with first-hand
corroborated information on the Victory Inn conspiracy. The
sources confirmed that Tawfik was in a romantic relationship
with Bell, acted as Bell's right-hand person at the
Victory Inn, acted in concert with the co-defendants,
collected cash from the drugs and human trafficking in the
form of room “rents, ” physically and emotionally
abused and directed the female victims to prostitute
themselves, and that minor victims were involved.
The Evidence ...