Undercover motel raid nets five narcotics arrests

by Joe Carlson

and Melanie Evans

About 40 police officers raided the Gopher Campus Motor Lodge Wednesday evening, arresting five individuals for possession of marijuana and crack cocaine.
The four adults and one juvenile were led from the lodge nearly two hours after police swarmed the motel, located at 10th Avenue and 4th Street Southeast.
At press time, those arrested had not been charged.
Witnesses said several shots were fired by police before law enforcement officials executed three search warrants. The raid concluded a three-month undercover surveillance of the lodge, police officials said.
“We received complaints about narcotics trafficking,” said Minneapolis Police Sgt. Mike Martin.
He said an additional charge of aggravated assault could result from the raid. An occupant of the motel pointed a gun at a police officer during the incident, Martin said.
Ward 2 City Councilwoman Joan Campbell, whose district includes the motel, said the building has been under legal scrutiny for years. City officials have investigated the motel for a number of housing code and ownership issues, she said.
Built in 1958, the motel was the site of a 1989 strangulation death which was later ruled manslaughter.
Campbell said officials have questioned the management about illegally renting the rooms by the month.
Campbell said that despite repeated complaints in the past, she was unaware of Wednesday night’s raid.
“We were having problems last summer,” she said. “We’ll get a number of complaints in a row, and then we won’t get anything for a long time.”
About 50 students and neighbors watched as police cars surrounded the building. A party-like atmosphere prevailed as the onlookers watched police search a car and stand guard after the raid.
Members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, which is across 4th Street from the motel, said an undercover police officer asked Wednesday night if he could enter their house to watch the building.
Ann Lofgren, a member of the sorority, said no members have ever been harmed by motel visitors. But, she said, some members said they are nervous about the strange activities across the street.
Lofgren said members have seen motel visitors engage in everything from drug deals to violence. In fact, some members of the sorority said they recently called the police after they saw a man beat a woman on the front lawn of the lodge.
“We’re concerned and want to know when it will all change,” Lofgren said.
Other neighbors of the motel said they agree that the business is a bad neighbor.
“Everyone around here knows it’s a sketchy place,” said Mark Statz, a senior in civil engineering who lives one block west of the motel.