The raids were launched after agents gathered evidence that owners were involved in drugs, prostitution and money-laundering activities at the Boulevard Motel, the Travelers Choice Motel and the Great Bear Motor Inn in Tukwila.
The agents executed search-and-seizure warrants at all three after street crews set up cones for a fake roadwork setup in the area. They arrested a number of people on the premises.
400 agents were involved in the investigations, though not all were at the scene of the raids. Officials said raids were also going on at several smaller, undisclosed locations. According to U.S. District Court documents, the three motels account for 17 percent of calls to Tukwila police between 2011 and 2012.
Crimes responded to at the motels included rape, robbery, assault, drug transactions, gun crimes, prostitution and possession of stolen properties. Three dead bodies were found in the Travelers Choice Motel between 2009 and 2013, with evidence of drug use in all three cases.
The agents plan to seize the motels, board them up and eventually sell them. Residents from the motels will be offered transportation to a nearby church, where they will receive food, medical and mental health services.
Investigators say the motel owners knowingly allowed their properties to be used for using and selling drugs, and that they were able to "profit handsomely" from the illegal activity.
The motel owners also allegedly charged extra for people that came to use prostitutes in the motels. Owners and managers charged a $10 entry fee for those coming to use the property for drugs or sexual services. Then, they would direct the patrons to rooms where they could find drugs or prostitutes.
The dealers and sex workers were also charged rental fees for the rooms based on the number of customers sent to the room in a day.
“These businesses have been a haven for violence and gang activity for several years. Today’s operation should have a lasting positive impact on crime in Tukwila,” said ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge Jim Modzelewski.