MONROE, Mich. – In a massive takedown, federal officials just apprehended a major human trafficking suspect that’s been on the run for more than the past two years.
Authorities say they arrested 50-year-old Darrick Bell in a Michigan Econo Lodge motel for his alleged connection into a large-scale human trafficking and drug operation.
He was on ICE’s Most Wanted fugitives list.
Federal officials say that Bell was arrested on Wednesday in possession of cocaine and more than $12,000 cash. A woman at the scene was also taken into police custody.
Authorities said that Bell has been on the run ever since January 2017, when he fled the Victoria Inn as more than 200 police officers raided the major operation. Somehow, Bell has remained on the run until now.
After nearly 3-yr long manhunt, the accused leader of a massive human trafficking and drug ring is finally behind bars.
— WXYZ Detroit (@wxyzdetroit) August 1, 2019
Reports suggested that Bell had been helping run the operation out of a Detroit motel. Bell’s organization allegedly drugged women and then forced them into commercial sex acts through coercion, threats and isolation, ICE said.
NEW: U.S. Marshals say they have nabbed Darrick Bell, 50, aka Tone or Ghost, wanted in connection with a human trafficking operation at the notorious, now-demolished Victory Inn on Michigan Ave. at the Detroit/Dearborn border.
— Maryann Struman (@mastruman) August 1, 2019
Bell now faces federal charges along with five other defendants. Fox reported that they were charged in a 9-count indictment with trafficking in persons, forced labor, drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion collection and conspiracy, among other charges, according to federal immigration officials.
ICE released a statement on the charges.
“The sophisticated operation at the motel allegedly was manned by lookouts and armed enforcers,” reads a statement from ICE. “HSI special agents and deputy U.S. Marshals are actively investigating persons who aided and abetted Bell to evade capture.”
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Last Known Location Detroit, Michigan
Human trafficking and narcotics
Name Bell, Darrick
Date of Birth December 17, 1968
Place of Birth United States
contact your local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office pic.twitter.com/5WM8Ym493j
— nevernevergiveup99 (@nevernevergive7) July 25, 2019
We spoke with a counter human trafficking expert about how these operations are formed. Stephen Komorek runs the US operations for Conflict International.
A shocking 85% of girls involved in sexual exploitation of children were previously in the child welfare system, as reported by the Department of Justice.
The targeted girls are often sucked in with promises of love and care, but those are false promises.
Komorek says the trafficker’s goal is to suck them in, then destroy hope.
“These types of people, they know what to look for,” he said. “Especially in the world of social media where people post everything about their lives. The fights they’ve had, their troubles, plans, innermost thoughts… it’s all out there. Young girls who have undergone abuse. Runaways. Others who came directly from the child welfare system. These are prime targets.”
Komorek is also a member of National Association for Missing and Exploited Children, holds multiple certifications in combating human trafficking and has done work alongside the FBI and other multi-national agencies and is a member of the World Association of Detectives.
“This is a huge win for law enforcement,” he finished.