The Mobile Fire-Rescue Department responded to a fire at the vacant Regency Inn in Tillman’s Corner last night, hours after Lagniappe published a report detailing the evidence of prostitution and drug use that led to a search warrant being executed there earlier this year.
MFRD Public Information Officer Steven Millhouse said the department arrived on the scene around 11:40 p.m., extinguishing a fire that was contained to two or three rooms on the second floor of the three-story, 96-room building.
Firefighters searched the Inn and found no one on the premises, he said, adding the fire and smoke “spread upward,” damaging the building but not compromising it.
“Our investigators are looking through it to determine a cause,” he said. “Our concern is figuring out how it started and we’ll take it from there.”
The Regency Inn was voluntarily closed by its owners earlier this year after federal agents raided the building, responding to a search warrant and investigation into alleged human trafficking and drug distribution on the premises. The application for the search warrant was unsealed Monday, suggesting investigators found evidence the hotel operators were aware of crimes committed on their property, but in the interest of profit, did nothing to stop it.
In October, three people tied to the hotel were indicted along with 39 others in an operation targeting what prosecutors call the “Crossley Hills Drug Trafficking Organization.” Those three individuals — Paresh Patel, Jaikumar Patel and Mitesh Desai — have pleaded not guilty to “maintaining a drug involved premises” and have trial dates tentatively scheduled for June.
Millhouse confirmed that although the Inn is currently closed, the property remains accessible to traffic and several of the rooms are either open or unlocked.
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