Port Arthur police chief weighs in after lawsuit targets alleged sex trafficking in local hotels
Published 12:18 am Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Port Arthur police and other law enforcement authorities have worked cases of sex trafficking in the past, Chief Tim Duriso said.
PAPD, along with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, have worked together on operations where they have arrested those who allegedly were traffickers.
Those arrests; however, were not in the local hotels that are part of a lawsuit brought forward by attorneys with Provost Umphrey.
The law firm announced Monday morning they represent four survivors who allege they were trafficked at Motel 6 and Studio 6 hotels in Beaumont and Port Arthur.
Lawsuits were recently filed in the Eastern District of Texas Federal Court, Beaumont Division. G6 Hospitality, as franchisor, and the local owners of the Motel 6 and Studio 6 hotels, are named among the defendants.
According to the lawsuits, the use of these hotels for sex trafficking is well known to the defendants.
“Defendants have known for years that pimps and traffickers use their hotels to carry out their crimes,” it reads. “[I]n 2014, 92 percent of calls received by the National Human Tracking Hotline involved reports of sex trafficking taking place at hotels.”
Bryan Blevins, Provost Umphrey counsel to the victims, said the statistics shine a grim light on the hotel industry being complicit in human trafficking.
“We’ve received accounts that hotel staff and employees will completely ignore the conspicuous signs of this crime happening right in front of them, or worse, actively participate,” Blevins said.
The lawsuit quotes online reviews left by Studio 6 guests describing the sexual activity and drug use they observed during their stay.
“Our clients were trafficked at these locations for years,” says Matthew Matheny of Provost Umphrey, also representing the victims.
“If transient hotel guests are seeing it, how could the staff and managers possibly not see what was happening — the fact is, they let it happen and ignored our clients’ cries for help.”
Provost Umphrey Law Firm, LLP, with co-counsel Annie McAdams of Annie McAdams PC and Fibich, Lebron, Copeland & Briggs in Houston, has led over 40 human trafficking cases in nine states, including Florida, Georgia, Michigan and New York.
Additional defendants include Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Marriot International, Inc.
According to the law firm, to report human tracking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888, as well as your local law enforcement.
“We want to stress that this crime can happen anywhere, to anyone,” Matheny said. “Recognize the signs and report it if you see it.”