Opening statements begin in Victory Inn sex trafficking case

Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 17:29:26-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — After a week of figuring out who's going to sit on the jury, the federal trial against two men accused of sex trafficking started Monday.

Opening statements began late Monday morning in the case against Darrick Bell and Harold Nero. They're accused of running a major prostitution operation at a Detroit motel.

The prosecutor told jurors he selected the evidence in a way that he thinks "highlights and directs jurors to the defendants' guilt."

The defense is scheduled to deliver their opening statement Tuesday.

Once the case is over, he said it will be clear to jurors that the two men are guilty of drug trafficking, sex trafficking and maintaining the Victory Inn as a drug house.

Feds say 14 women were rescued, while 80 others came from the streets for drugs and cash. Prosecutors allege the women were trafficked, forced and coerced for two years. The operation was busted up in January of 2017.

In the trial, five women are set to testify.

Also during his opening statement, the prosecutor noted Bell’s arrest occurred in a motel room and he had 255 grams of cocaine, marijuana and almost $12,000 in cash on him. Bell has been on the run for nearly three years and had previously served 17 years in prison for murder.

A third man is also charged but is not part of this trial. There were several defendants in the case originally. The prosecutor's office said some of them have plead.

Feds also charged Janette Tawfik, who they say worked at the motel, was a madam, drug boss and girlfriend of Bell. She's awaiting her day in court.