Despair in Detroit
The Victory Inn is on the desperate border of Detroit and Dearborn.
It’s a landscape pockmarked with shuttered factories, pawn shops and liquor stores selling cheap booze to those whom life has crushed.
The former industrial muscle of America has spiralled into a dystopian nightmare.
Now, the Victory - site of numerous murders, shootings and other mayhem over the years - is being called by cops the centre of a sinister drugs and sex trafficking empire.
Detectives and her alleged victims are calling the Victory’s manager, Janette Tawfik, 40, a single mother of four, the ‘Dragon Lady.”
Inside the dive, she allegedly sold cocaine, heroin and girls - some as young as 14.
“She was essentially responsible for managing the human misery that went on at the Victory Inn,” Asst. US Attorney Amanda Jawad said in court. “This conspiracy has led to many deaths.”
With the gun-toting Dragon Lady ruling the roost, all but two of the Victory’s 42 rooms were used for prostitution and shooting drugs.
And when cops swooped in? They rescued 14 battered, hopelessly addicted sex slaves living in squalor, heartache etched into their faces.
No, no, no, her mouthpiece said. Hard-working single mom, blah, blah, blah.
But in life, you’re judged by the company you keep.
Tawfik’s boyfriend is convicted killer and pimp Darrick “Tone” Bell, 48. And the Dragon Lady told pals she was deeply in love with the hardened thug.
Cops produced a slew of text messages to underscore their connection.
“For the first time in my life I’m happy. I feel like a woman and it’s because of him,” she gushed in one missive to a pal.
Another warns: “Whoever tries to harm him … will be my worst enemy. I love him and am madly in love with him. He completes me. He has become the beacon of my life.”
Bell was, in fact, the man behind the woman at the Victory Inn.
Convicted in 1996 of blowing away a drug rival, Bell is also called “The Ghost” in his southwest Detroit hood because of the low-profile he keeps.
But the sickening hijinks at the Victory has shaken even the most hardened cops who are used to Motown’s sky-high misery index.
“It was the worst scene ... just girls as high as you can imagine, passed out on the ground, shivering, freezing cold, incoherent, couldn’t make a statement,” Homeland Security Special Agent Jeremy Forys said.
Bell is now Detroit’s most wanted and detectives are anxious to bring him in on the Victory Inn caper - and a lot of other loose ends that wind their way to the morgue.
“He’s a pathetic pimp, the stuff he’s doing to these young girls, you know, they’re somebody’s daughter,” U.S. Marshal Aaron Garcia told WXYZ.
Whether she’s guilty or not is for Michigan’s courts to decide.
But the Victory Inn represents something more than a seedy human trafficking operation selling flesh and dreams in a landscape where nightmares rule.
There will be another indignity for Detroit next week and the sordid happenings at the Victory Inn will fade. In Motown, they always do.
Poor old Detroit.
STRIPPER GANG DRUGGED, BLACKMAILED MEN
Samantha Barbash looks like the stripper from central casting.
Brassy, over-bronzed and over-boobed, her sexpot personna is solidified with lusty lips permanently pumped with collagen.
Now, the 43-year-old peeler has been convicted of spiking her wealthy Wall St. clientele’s drinks with drugs, then robbing them.
Cops say the vicious vixen and her gang of strippers would troll high-end gin joints looking for marks. Doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers were their preferred patsies.
And then they’d drug their victims’ drinks and take them to high-end Manhattan jiggle joint, Scores. The women then rode the barely conscious men’s credit cards into the stratosphere with hefty charges for pricey booze - and sex.
But the sex scam began unravelling in 2013 when cardiologist Dr. Zyad Younan finked to cops. He was apparently quite surprised to see $135,000 of charges on his credit card. Four other women have already been convicted.
In court, buxom bad girl Barbash wore a black leather jacket, stilettos and waist-length blond extensions. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation.
On the way out of court, Barbash gave my friend, New York Post photographer Steve Hirsch the finger. A bad girl til the end.
NAME: Joshua Thomas Wilson
DETAILS: 14 Division is seeking Wilson who is wanted for sexual assault, sexual interference and forcible confinement. He 5’8”, 135 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, with a tattoo on his left hand. Wilson is considered violent.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1400 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).