The conditions at Victory Inn in Detroit’s southwest side were unlike anything Jeremy Forys had ever seen.
What Forys saw were rooms filled with filth, disgust and drug and sex paraphernalia. While he had a job to do, as a human being, his heart went out because it was a difficult situation to stomach.
It was approximately one year ago that Forys, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit special agent, and nearly 200 other law enforcement personnel descended on the Victory Inn in one of the largest human trafficking enforcement operations in Detroit history. According to indictments, co-conspirators had formed and operated a massive human trafficking and narcotics distribution operation out of multiple rooms in the motel, forcing women to work as commercial sex workers while illegal drugs were allegedly available in other parts of the motel.
Nearly a year later, Special Agent Forys was featured on the newsmagazine show Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen to discuss the operation and make a public appeal for information leading to the arrest of the accused ringleader, Darrick Bell, who remains a fugitive. The reward for Bell’s capture is up to $15,000.
The segment aired Jan. 10, on the CW Network in Detroit.
“He’s only guy we indicted that we haven’t been able to arrest yet and we were looking at different ideas to keep the word out there that we were looking for this fugitive,” Forys said. “The word is out here in Detroit. There’s been television coverage and there’s a billboard on the freeway, but this guy has the means to leave the city and state, so I wanted to get it out nationally. He’s been on the run since the initial indictment came out. We hadn’t been able to come up with anything.”
Viewers tuning in can expect a general overview of the operation, but primarily, Forys’ segment will focus on Bell, who also goes by the street names of “Tone” or “Ghost.” The show will highlight what he looks like and reinforce the fact that he’s a danger to the community and people need to reach out if and when they see him.
Victory Inn was demolished in December 2017. For those in the neighborhood, it was a sense of a relief that an eyesore of the community was finally removed. For HSI Detroit personnel, rescuing human trafficking victims and getting them to a healthier place in life is always the No. 1 goal always.
“Victims always have to come first in this. When [the motel] shut down, it was a great feeling because we knew there’d be no more trafficking that would go on at that location,” Forys said. “For me personally, and my agency, we see that as a pretty large victory.”