ELKRIDGE, Md. - She came to the Holiday Inn Express in Elkridge for a room and a good night’s sleep, but Cheryl Eicke got more than she bargained for.
"I'm actually from Pennsylvania and we have had raids up near our area too, but I'm out in the country where they've been raiding a lot of places,” said Eicke, “I didn't expect to find it at a hotel where I was staying here."
It is methamphetamine, better known as crystal meth, which police discovered after some one dialed 911 reporting a strong odor on the fourth floor of the hotel.
While the highly-addictive, man-made chemical is relatively scarce in Maryland, it appears that scarcity set the stage for several men to set up a lab in their room.
"It's our belief that they were manufacturing the meth for use among themselves and they've indicated it was because they couldn't find meth here in Howard County," said Sherry Llewellyn of the Howard County Police Department.
Just before 11 o’clock Monday evening, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services arrived on the scene and evacuated guests from the entire floor.
One man told us he wasn’t allowed back in for six hours.
And then there was a man with a blanket wrapped around him that we found wandering about the hotel parking lot who identified himself as Spencer Smith.
"I don't know anything about this... apparently a meth lab,” said Smith, “The only thing I do know is what I see in movies and a big bang."
Despite professing to have limited knowledge of the drug, hotel guest and evacuee, Spencer Smith, turned out to be suspect Spencer Smith---the fifth man police would arrest in connection with the lab.
In addition to the risk of fire and explosions, cooking meth can produce toxic fumes and ether, and cleaning crews from Pennsylvania remained on site more than 12 hours after the bust.
Meanwhile, people like Cheryl Eicke, who checked into the hotel and ended up checking out of a crime scene, say they’re leaving with new knowledge of a drug that once was relatively unknown here.
"I have grandchildren at this point in my life... young grandchildren... and hopefully they can kind of avoid this. My children were always great... never into drugs so I never really had an issue with it, but it's scary that it's this pronounced in these areas any more."
Police say the five suspects came from Oklahoma, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and they were all traveling through the area for work.
Officers say they also found heroin and a handgun inside their room.
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