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Police were called to Pulaski’s Budget Inn 79 times last year, and this year is looking nearly as bad.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Shawn Cook of Pulaski describes his experience as a resident of the Budget Inn motel in Pulaski. Cook was displaced from his home when a tornado struck the town in 2011, and has been living at the Budget Inn for a year and three months he said.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
A Pulaski police vehicle sits in front of the Budget Inn motel in Pulaski. The hotel has been the location of multiple police calls, and the owner is working with police to stem criminal activity there.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
PULASKI — Uniforms and flashing lights flooded the parking lot of the Budget Inn motel last week after police discovered what was described as an inactive methamphetamine lab.
Shawn Cook, a motel resident, said he was alarmed by the law enforcement presence that awoke many of his slumbering neighbors and lingered until the early morning hours. But on Tuesday, Cook said he has become immune to the sight of a patrol car in the motel parking lot.
Three days after the discovery of the inactive meth lab, officers returned and said they found crack cocaine, marijuana and prescription medications in a different room. Police on Tuesday announced the third drug-related bust within a week at the motel, located in the 500 block of East Main Street.
“Police stay over here,” Cook said. “It’s always something.”
Pulaski Police Chief Gary Roche said his officers responded to 79 calls at the Budget Inn last year and have responded to 17 so far this year, including the most recent narcotics incident. The incidents have included drugs, fights, domestic-related calls and public intoxications, among other offenses .
Motel owner Madhuri Desai said Tuesday that she has been working closely with law enforcement in an attempt to clean up her business.
“We’re trying to eliminate this stuff,” Desai said. “This is not our fault. We do try to apply strict rules as far as possible.”
Desai said she bought the Budget Inn with her husband about a year ago. For the past six months, since her husband’s death, she has been running the motel with the help of her teenage son.
Desai, originally from India, said she moved to the United States about six years ago and became a manager of a Virginia Beach motel.
“These incidents are usual in any motel,” Desai said. “Here in Pulaski, maybe it’s a little too much.”
Desai, 42, said it’s difficult for a motel owner to prevent drug activity. Several of her customers are locals who are homeless or who have fallen upon hard times, she said.
“They have to have their IDs when they check in, and we get their phone numbers,” Desai said. “We can give all of that information to police if they come. But we can’t go into each room and check for this stuff.”
The motel has 26 rooms, with 12 to 16 typically booked at all times, Desai said. For a one-bed room the price per night is $42, and with two beds, the price rises to $48, she said.
Desai said having three incidents in one week was “unusual.”
It started March 25, when police arrived about 11 p.m. to serve an arrest warrant. After locating the suspect, police discovered what appeared to be meth and precursors for manufacturing meth in the room. Terry Lee Draper, 33, and Autumn “Nikki” Koert, 27, both of Pulaski, were charged with manufacturing a Schedule I or II controlled substance and possessing precursors to manufacturing meth, according to a news release.
On March 28, police responded about 10:30 p.m. for a well-being check, and while at the motel they identified drug activity in a room , according to a news release. Police said they located an unspecified amount of crack cocaine, marijuana and various types of Schedule II, III and IV prescription medications. Approximately $2,100 also was seized, police said.
DuJuan Antonio Cannon, 31, of Detroit, Mich., was charged with four felonies involving possession and possession with the intent to distribute Schedule I, II, III and IV narcotics. He also was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, according to the release. Misdemeanor citations were issued to Anthony Frank Laster, 25, of Detroit, Mich., and Terrell Marquis Love, 27, of Pulaski.
A bout 11:30 a.m. Sunday, officers made contact at the motel with William Shane Rupe, 26, of Pulaski, for a non criminal incident, according to a news release. During that contact, police said they found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of suspected crystal meth, though lab tests will be needed to confirm the substance, according to the release.
Rupe has not been charged, pending the lab analysis, Capt. Anthony Meredith said.
Desai said she has to refurbish rooms where hazardous substances are found. Purchasing new furniture and microwaves, and repainting costs her about $300 to $400 per room, she said.
Cook said he has been staying in the motel for almost one year and three months, after losing his home to the April 8, 2011, tornado in Pulaski County. He and his girlfriend are staying directly below the room where the inactive meth lab was found.
“We were concerned for our safety,” Cook said. “You ain’t supposed to breathe that stuff. And those things can blow up.”
Cook said he knows Desai and her son well, and he knew Desai’s husband . It’s not the family’s fault, he said.
Roche said an order for zero toleration of violations has been placed on the motel, meaning that if individuals break the law on the property, they will be arrested, regardless of the circumstances. Desai has been cooperative with police throughout the process, he said.
“The aim of the owner, as well as ours, is to provide a safe place for transient housing, whether it’s for travelers or for those who came upon unfortunate circumstances,” Roche said. “That’s what we hope for.”
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