Crime & Courts

Feds oversee sale of former Charlotte Red Roof Inn that harbored teen sex trafficking

Police said staff members at the motel were complicit in drug dealing and prostitution there since at least 2012, and that the owner had been slow to address police concerns.
Police said staff members at the motel were complicit in drug dealing and prostitution there since at least 2012, and that the owner had been slow to address police concerns. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

A former Charlotte Red Roof Inn that prosecutors said harbored teen sex trafficking and drug sales has been sold as part of a settlement agreement with the federal government.

The new owner, in turn, has agreed to invest $300,000 in improvements to the property on Queen City Drive, near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said.

Cornelius-based SHPG Hospitality LLC, the new owner, also agreed to affiliate with a national chain hotel, install a 24-hour video surveillance security system and not rent rooms by the hour, according to the agreement filed in federal court in Charlotte on Monday.

In September 2015, the U.S. government filed a civil complaint against the property under federal forfeiture laws.

Police said staff members at the motel were complicit in drug dealing and prostitution there since at least 2012, and that the owner had been slow to address police concerns.

Prostitutes told police that pimps paid off maids and motel managers to not report crimes. Last year, investigators orchestrated a fake crack-cocaine deal as a front desk clerk watched. No one called police. In another 2015 incident, after someone inquired about buying drugs, a clerk said to wait 20 minutes and her boyfriend would show up with marijuana for sale, according to police.

Tenants said drug addicts would knock on doors late at night. On four occasions, undercover informants bought crack cocaine from dealers who had taken up permanent residence in Room 139. On a review for Priceline.com, a hotel booking site, one former tenant said, “My 22 month old grandson was playing on the floor and crawled under the bed where he pulled out a used needle.”

According to the government’s 2015 complaint, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department had repeatedly advised the property owner of the ongoing criminal activity and of specific measures to put into place to reduce crime. Yet criminal activity continued, the complaint said.

While admitting no guilt, former owner Shreeji Hospitality Queen City LLC agreed as part of the settlement to pay the U.S. government $175,000 from the sale of the former Red Roof Inn.

In announcing the settlement, Rose commended the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police “for collaborating to achieve today’s outcome.”

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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