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MIAMI (CBSMiami) —-The Miami Shores Police Chief and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms announced Monday that 16 people have been arrested on state and federal charges after they were allegedly tied to drug trafficking at the now-closed Miami Shores Motel.

Police Chief Kevin Lystad told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he was alarmed by the motel, calling it a “storefront for narcotics operations.”

Christopher Robinson, an Assistant Special Agent and chief of Miami operations for ATF, said the motel had been identified as a “blight on the community where the quality of life is affected because of violent activity. Our concern is the nexus of violence and armed activity and that’s what ATF is focusing on with violent crimes.”

The motel at Northeast 105th St. and Biscayne Boulevard received special scrutiny initially after a homicide there in early March of 2016.

“Some of the Low-end motels tend to bring in some unsavory characters and the concern is that spilling over to our neighborhoods,” said Lystad.

Lystad and ATF launched OPERATION UNWANTED GUEST in February of 2017 and the 20-month-long investigation resulted in the arrests of 12 men and four women. Nearly all of them were charged with possession with intent to sell. Leurismar Sanchez-Rojas was charged with renting for the purpose of trafficking in narcotics.

Two men are fugitives: Henry Box. Jr. and Bryan J. King. They are wanted for possession of drugs with intent to sell.

Lystad said, “We saw increasing calls for service and various calls for service and low-level dealings and then a homicide did occur at the motel. So when we started to look at it we saw a very well organized effort to traffic in narcotics and deal in narcotics out of the motel.”

“The best term I can use is that it became a storefront for narcotics operations at the motel,” he said. “That’s what it was used for and the motel was being used as a staging area for narcotics.”

Lystad said “The major concern is that is spawned a homicide and when you have drug activity everything else falls with it, drugs, armed subjects, money laundering. There are other criminal elements that spin-off and ongoing investigations.”

Lystad the motel posed a threat to the community.

“As close as the motel us to the community particularly in the north end, the people dealing there and trafficking were spilling into the neighborhood and affecting it,” he said.

Anyone who can help detectives find Henry Box. Jr. or Bryan J. King should call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).

D’Oench also spoke with two business managers right next to the Miami Shores Motel. They said they were not allowed to speak on camera but they told him off camera that they were glad the motel was scheduled for demolition.

Peter D'Oench