Denver suspends license of East Colfax motel due to string of criminal activity

Denver city officials on Thursday suspended the license of an East Colfax Avenue motel due to a string of criminal activity, marking the first action of its kind against a city lodging establishment.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, in an order of summary suspension, said the Regis Motel (8282 E. Colfax Ave.) had become a den for prostitution, drug sales, illegal weapons, burglaries and a fatal shooting.

These incidents “require emergency action and summary suspension of the respondent’s license,” Molly Duplechian, the department’s executive director, wrote in the letter.

In most cases, the city issues show cause orders to businesses under suspicion of running problematic operations. Under those orders, businesses can continue to operate as they prove to the city why their license shouldn’t be revoked. Summary suspensions, on the other hand, are far more serious and result in the immediate suspension of a license due to emergent safety threats.

Thursday’s order marks only the eighth time since 2017 that Denver has issued a summary suspension to a business, according to excise and licenses officials. But it’s believed to be the first time the city has issued one to a hotel or motel.

The motel’s owner, Daniel Kim, could not be reached Friday for comment. He will have an opportunity to plead his case to the city during a future hearing, but cannot operate the motel in the meantime.

The city’s letter outlines an array of alleged illegal activity at the motel since July.

Denver police on Thursday executed search warrants at the motel, arresting two people — a 26-year-old man and 41-year-old woman — after recovering suspected narcotics and two firearms from a room, a spokesperson said in an email.

Authorities also arrested a 58-year-old woman on unrelated felony warrants. And police cited a 50-year-old woman, who identified herself as the property manager, for allegedly operating the motel without a license.

Previously, Denver police have arrested multiple people on the premises for possession of drugs, including cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and oxycodone. In August, police arrested a motel manager in connection with 10 burglaries, city officials said.

An undercover prostitution sting in September found the motel’s custodian allegedly pandering and providing a prostitute to an undercover officer.

Later that month, a motel resident shot and killed another person through their room door, the letter stated.

With the motel closed, city outreach workers on Thursday helped place families in other hotels. Officials provided other displaced individuals with bus tickets, gift cards for clothing and groceries, and cell phones. The remaining people living at the motel refused services, a police spokesperson said.

Denver has taken action twice in the past decade against motels with extensive illegal activity, though neither involved an immediate summary suspension.

These past incidents involved a 2017 public nuisance case against the 7 Star Motel, and a 2018 case against the Western Motel for health and safety violations.

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