ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Law enforcement held a press conference at Knights Inn on Thirlane Rd. Tuesday, announcing they were beginning the court proceedings for seizure and civil forfeiture of the property.
According to Roanoke County Police Department, a federal judge ordered U.S. Marshals to begin seizure proceedings Tuesday morning.
Assistant Police Chief Jimmy Chapman said the hotel generated the second highest calls for service for Roanoke County in 2020 and 2021.
“Over the past three years, the Roanoke County Police Department has responded to 1,147 calls for service, 350 criminal offenses of which 153 were drug related, 24 reported overdoses, 2 of which were fatal, and made 152 arrests,” he said in a quote that was also posted to Facebook.
The investigation into the Knights Inn began after a man and woman were indicted for trafficking a minor at the hotel. According to court documents, Mickey Jimenez was sentenced to eight years in prison in July for trafficking a minor, and William Jackson is awaiting his sentencing, with prosecutors recommending close to 10 years for narcotics and sex trafficking.
This step to seize the property comes after U.S. Attorney for Western Virginia Chris Kavanaugh says they now have proof that the owner and operator of the Knights Inn was benefitting financially from the trafficking.
Kavanaugh says they were giving discounted rates, allowing people to pay cash without record of transaction, and notifying people involved in the criminal activity when law enforcement was nearby.
“This allowed the criminal activity here to thrive and while the community suffered so too did the women involved in commercial sex trafficking also suffer,” said Kavanaugh.
Roanoke County Police say multiple local officials met with the owner and management to discuss the high rates of criminal activity, but there was little change.
Kavanaugh says seizing and forfeiting this property will ensure it can no longer be used for criminal activity.