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Motel St-Jacques raided: Montreal police call it a hotbed for sex work, drugs and violence

A raid at Motel St-Jacques in Montreal took place Thursday (CTV News / Kelly Greig) A raid at Motel St-Jacques in Montreal took place Thursday (CTV News / Kelly Greig)
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Residents of Montreal's Motel St-Jacques have been given a week and a half to leave following a major police raid Thursday.

Montreal police say for years, the hotel was a hotbed for sex work, drugs and violence.

"We were in there for two hours, and in one room there were four people who were completely out of it," said Montreal police commander Stephane Desroches.

The raid caught residents by surprise.

"They turned around, saw me in my window and started telling us to come out," said resident Angela Michelle."They handcuffed me."

Police arrested the motel's owner on drug allegations.

Investigators say the location is well known to police, and in the last year alone, there have been three deadly fentanyl overdoses.

Motel St-Jacques in Notre-Dame-de-Grace (CTV News/Kelly Greig)Desroches said about 10 women are sex workers there.

Motels can be safer for sex workers because there are other people nearby, said Sandra Wesley, who works with advocacy group Stella.

Wesley called this a warning to hotel owners.        

"If you're not reporting sex workers, we'll assume you're tolerating it, and you're benefitting from it, and [police] might come after you. Up until now, that hadn't happened; no motel operators had been arrested," she said. "Up until Motel St-Jacques. I think part of this and part of why it's so huge as an operation and so public is because the SPVM wants to send a threatening message."

Those living there now have a week and a half to leave permanently as the building has been turned over to the courts.

"We have to offer support to people in this situation," said Desroches.

Since Thursday, organizations like the local health board have been going door to door to offer services.

Some of the residents say the bust means they'll likely end up homeless. 

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