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SAN DIEGO — Big safety changes are coming for a motel in Barrio Logan. This comes after San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott said the motel has allowed prostitution and trafficking.
The motel has agreed to the renovations.
“It’s just historically known as an area where prostitutes have come, been brought here by their pimps,” said San Diego Police Department Capt. Matt Novak of the Vice Unit.
The Main Street Motel in Barrio Logan is now temporarily closed. Elliott went to court to force the owners and operators to make safety improvements after years of criminal activity at the motel.
The owner is PPNC LLC and its Chief Executive Officer is Niruben Pravinkumar Bhakta. The former managers — Vini Hospitality LLC, Rahul Natvarlal Arya, and Nisha Rahul Arya — are prohibited from continuing to operate the motel, according to the city
“The result we want is now happening,” said Elliott.
The city attorney argues the motel has become a hub for human trafficking, prostitution and drugs while offering hourly rates for rooms.
The area where the motel is located was subject to a months-long investigation involving San Diego Police, National City Police, the city attorney and district attorney’s offices, along with other agencies.
Police have responded to more than 200 calls in the past four years, according to Elliott. SDPD arrested 48 people for sex trafficking and rescued eight minors as young as 13-years-old who were forced into sex work.
“This area has created a proliferation of issues in that area and so, therefore, causes a lot of our resources from the San Diego Police Department to be pulled from other areas,” Novak said.
The owners and operators agreed to 36 modifications, including but not limited to hiring uniformed security guards and installing security cameras while providing access to SDPD and the city attorney’s office at any time on request.
The motel must also stop renting rooms by the hour. Large visible signs stating “no trespassing, loitering, sex trafficking, drugs,” etc. will be posted at the motel.
“When there is no motel to go to to sell these human beings, that makes a big difference,” said Elliott. “So we need to be knocking these hotels out of this business one by one.
“We’ll have a lot more security so if the pimps decide to use this area as their base, we will be able to identify who they are and arrest them,” Novak added.
The agreement aims for long-term solutions. The owner and operator must each pay $25,000 to SDPD for reimbursement for investigation costs. Plus, they must pay a combined $50,000 in civil liberties.
Both owners and operators also need to make a $5,500 donation to a non-profit that assists victims of sex trafficking.
“This is permanent. This means forever the motel owner will be subjected to this order and to the promises they made,” Elliott said.
If sex trafficking continues, when the motel reopens, the motel may be forced to close for a year. The owners and operators may each face a fine of $325,000.