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Feds charge man in alleged sex trafficking operation on Detroit's east side


Detroit — Federal agents have arrested a convicted sex offender at a home on the city's east side that allegedly operated as a basement brothel and investigators contend at least 10 women were beaten, raped, forced to engage in commercial sex acts and fed drugs served on plates by a pistol-packing pimp.

Quiyemabi Summerlin, 42, was charged Friday with sex trafficking by force, maintaining a drug home, and drug and gun crimes in a case involving an unusually large number of alleged victims forced to live in the mattress-strewn basement of a brick bungalow two blocks from Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit.

Summerlin, allegedly carrying one gun on his waist and another strapped to his leg, sexually assaulted women, ordered them to earn at least $1,000 a day from commercial sex acts and spied on them by listening to the sex on baby monitors, an FBI special agent alleged Friday in a federal court affidavit.

"After the date was conducted and the 'john' left the residence, Summerlin would give the girls a plate of drugs," the agent wrote.

When one woman asked for food, "Summerlin slapped her across the face and threw her to the floor," the agent added.

The investigation appears to be the largest federal crackdown on sex trafficking in Detroit since January 2017 when approximately 200 law enforcement officers raided the Victory Inn motel and rescued 14 women.

The Victory Inn raid uncovered a sophisticated criminal organization that forced as many as 20 women to live in inhumane conditions and have sex with customers. 

play
The Raid at Victory Inn
The inside story behind one of the largest law enforcement raids in Detroit history that shuttered a drug-riddled motel agents likened to a brothel.

Members of the FBI's victim services division are assessing the needs of victims involved in the Summerlin case and helping arrange housing, drug treatment and mental health services, authorities said. 

"The idea is to get them in touch with the appropriate person if they need drug treatment or mental health services," FBI spokeswoman Mara Schneider told The Detroit News.

Summerlin, who was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2002, was ordered held without bond Friday and will have a detention hearing in federal court Wednesday. He is facing charges punishable by up to life in prison.

Summerlin's lawyer, Benton Martin, declined comment Friday.

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The investigation started in July 2019 after a woman reported to Detroit police that Summerlin had allegedly kept her in the basement of his home in the 19100 block of Berden Street, west of Moross and Mack on the city's far east side.

Summerlin is accused of telling her she was going to have sex with men and give him the money, according to the FBI agent. Summerlin also made her have sex with him twice and repeatedly loaded a gun in front of her, the agent wrote.

"(The victim) was fearful for her life," the agent wrote.

Seven months later, in February 2020, Detroit police officers responded to an assault-and-battery call at the home. They talked to a second woman who claimed Summerlin threatened to beat her unless she had sex with him, according to the affidavit.

That morning, Summerlin arranged for a man to pay $170 to have sex with the woman, the government said. She allegedly met the "john" in the basement, performed oral sex and was paid $120.

Summerlin demanded $170 and beat the woman when she said she only had $120, the agent wrote.

Summerlin told police the woman was homeless and staying overnight at his home.

"Summerlin stated he woke up to the sounds of moaning and witnessed (the woman) engaged in intercourse with an unknown male," the agent wrote.

This spring, members of the Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes Task Force interviewed two other women during undercover sex trafficking operations at Metro Detroit-area hotels.

The women recounted claims of working for Summerlin while conducting commercial sex acts at his home. Summerlin was known as a violent pimp who provided women crack, heroin and uncut fentanyl, according to the affidavit.

One of the women said Summerlin raped her and kept all the money from the sex acts with other men.

"Summerlin set a daily quota of $1,000," the woman told investigators. "If the quota was not met, Summerlin threatened violence or the withholding of drugs.

"Summerlin kept a hidden baby monitor in the basement," the FBI agent wrote, "so he knew exactly how much money the girls were making."

A fifth woman said Summerlin forced her to post commercial sex ads online and beat her when she refused, the agent wrote. Summerlin was also allegedly forcing two other victims, who may have been minors, to engage in commercial sex acts, the agent noted. 

He was "providing the girls with heroin and crack cocaine in order to control them, physically assaulting the victims if they did not earn enough to cover the costs of the drugs, and taking the money from the commercial sex dates," the agent wrote.

The woman also gave investigators Summerlin's phone numbers which were linked to approximately 140 online sex ads, the government alleged.

One phone number was on file with the state's Children's Protective Services. State workers questioned Summerlin in June, and he denied being involved in sex trafficking, according to the affidavit.

An undercover officer arranged a "date" in late July and met Summerlin outside the Berden Street home, according to the affidavit.

In September, a sixth victim told investigators Summerlin offered her drugs one day while she was walking down the street. She later said she conducted sex acts in the basement of Summerlin's home near the hospital. 

"After the date was done, Summerlin gave (her) a plate of drugs," the agent wrote. 

"Summerlin once choked (the victim) for refusing to do something he asked," the agent added. "(The woman) considered Summerlin a 'romeo pimp' and not a 'gorilla pimp'" — slang for a violent sex trafficker.

The victim described the home as heavily secured and monitored.

"Summerlin kept security cameras in the house to make sure his drugs were not stolen and kept a black 9-millimeter pistol on his person," the agent wrote.

Another victim told investigators she worked for Summerlin for three months starting in early 2020. He is accused of taking the woman's phone and car key so she could not leave and posted commercial sex ads online. 

Summerlin kept the money from customers, the agent wrote, allegedly gave the woman heroin and frequently raped her.

Investigators raided the Berden Street home Thursday. Inside, agents found Summerlin and two female victims in the basement, according to the affidavit.

Investigators recovered a shotgun, fentanyl, cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

The FBI is asking for the public to help identify additional juvenile and adult victims who may have had contact with Summerlin. Investigators can be reached at (313) 965-2323.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews