After a week of figuring out who’s going to sit on the
jury, the federal trial against two men accused of sex trafficking
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.
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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.