Following an early-morning raid Wednesday that ended in multiple arrests for heroin and methamphetamine sales at the Cedar Lodge Inn, Medford police say they are ready to draw a line in the sand for the owners of the property.
The drug raid comes on the heels of a stabbing and the arrest of one of the motel's residents on bank robbery charges.
Medford police Chief Tim George said the Cedar Lodge Inn has become too large a problem to ignore.
"We are going to make contact with the owners because this is not acceptable," George said. "We've seen enough there recently that makes it obvious there's a problem there that needs to be fixed."
On Wednesday, Medford Drug and Gang Enforcement officers arrived at the motel on Riverside Avenue at 7 a.m. after an investigation led them to believe two Oakland, Calif., men had set up shop there to sell heroin, MADGE Lt. Brett Johnson said.
"Word is out that there's a market for heroin in Medford," Johnson said. "Lately we've seen the heroin move here from California. It was coming from Portland before, but that's changed."
MADGE has been investigating the group working at the Cedar Lodge Inn for two months. Officers said when they arrived this morning, they found just over 3 ounces of heroin, packaging, scales, drug records and a .45 Glock handgun.
Arrested were Keith Levon Rogers, 46, and Paul Madison Byers, 47, both of Oakland. They were lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of delivery, possession and manufacture of heroin. In addition, Byers was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Both remained lodged late Wednesday on $55,000 bail.
The pair have multiple arrests and convictions in California and both have spent time in prison, Johnson added.
While MADGE was serving the warrant, investigators contacted the occupants in another room in which drug sales were suspected.
When they were let into that room, a man was seen jumping out a back window. Officers chased him down and found that he had a warrant for his arrest on a past heroin charge.
He was identified as 22-year-old Chad Quinton Castellano, 22, a Medford-area transient. MADGE found that he had heroin in his possession. He was not linked to the Oakland suspects, Johnson said.
The excitement didn't end there. As MADGE was dealing with Castellano, a car pulled into the Cedar Lodge parking lot that caught the manager's attention.
He told officers that the owner of the car was not allowed on the property, and an officer recognized the driver as someone who had a suspended license. Police stopped the vehicle and searched it.
They found a container of chocolate chip cookies with a false bottom. When the bottom was detached several baggies filled with methamphetamine fell out, Johnson reported.
The driver was identified as David Jonathan Smith, 30, who was charged with possession, manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine. He was lodged in jail on more than $1 million bail.
Meth residue was found on a pipe inside the car. The pipe reportedly belonged to his passenger, who was identified as Kalia Diane Ruthstrom, 26. She was charged with possession of methamphetamine and a parole violation. She was lodged without bail.
On Tuesday, a man accused of robbing the Chase Bank branch on Crater Lake Avenue was tracked back to the motel. While police were arresting him, George began speaking with people in the area. He was not happy with what he heard.
"I had a 12-year-old boy who was staying there tell me that we were freaking out the tweakers (meth addicts) there," George said. "When a kid knows the situation, you know things are not right at this location."
The department plans to contact the motel's out-of-state owners and speak with them about the conditions at the property.
George noted trash in the parking lot, including a large dumpster that has long been overflowing with refuse and old mattresses.
"First of all, you have to keep your property clean," George said. "This type of thing breeds criminality. And once it sets in somewhere, it tends to creep outward into other areas."
If the owners fail to comply with the department's requests, the property can be closed for business.
"We don't want to go that far yet," George said. "We want them to comply and fix the problems."
The recent problems at Cedar Lodge Inn began last week when a motel employee was stabbed as he attempted to escort two people off the premises.
"You owe it to your employees and potential customers to maintain a safe environment," George said. "We've seen some businesses deal with these problems and move on. It's possible."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org.