UPDATE: Five of the seven Memphis motels which were shut down will REOPEN today. The other two cases are still pending: Bellevue Inn and Summer motel.
After a year long investigation by the Shelby County District Attorney's Office, seven motels in Memphis have been shut down for public nuisance.
The range of criminal activity at the motels include rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and prostitution.
District Attorney General Amy Weirich said in a news conference Friday that the year-long investigation revealed that the seven motels encouraged prostitution by unlawfully renting rooms by the hour.
Shelby County Environmental Judge Larry Potter issued the injunctions against the motels in Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Court Division XIV.
The investigation and nuisance operation, called "Operation Bed Bug," was jointly conducted by Shelby County and the Memphis Police Department's Organized Crime Unit.
The seven motels shuttered and its owners are:
"Business owners who encourage and allow criminal activity must be held accountable," said DAG Weirich. "We are not going to sit back and allow them to make a profit at the expense of public safety."
Each of the owners must appear in Environmental court Tuesday, May 28 to respond to the nuisance petitions.
The year-long MPD OCU investigation found that each of the motels are often the scene of serious criminal incidents. These motels facilitate prostitution in the area and the staff encouraged prostitution by unlawfully renting rooms by the hour.
"These types of establishments are breeding grounds for criminal enterprise, such as prostitution and drug transactions," said Police Director Toney Armstrong. "The residents in these communities should not and will not be subjected to this criminal activity. This department will continue to work with the D.A.'s office to keep this community safe."
Between July 2011 and March 2013, the Memphis Police Department responded to numerous calls for service at each business address. The resulting criminal offenses indicated a wide range of criminal and violent activity occurring at or near each location. Offense reports recorded during this period included forcible rape, forcible sodomy, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, theft, and vandalism.
During the investigation, detectives posed as customers of the motels and rented rooms by the hour from employees at each location. Between March 22, 2013 and April 7, 2013, detectives rented rooms at an hourly rate on multiple occasions for as little as $20.00. Detectives documented and recorded each transaction. Despite laws to the contrary, the employees at each of these motels routinely rented rooms to customers by the hour while advertising a different nightly rate.
FOX13 News reporter Bofta Yimam contributed to this report.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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