Raleigh officer’s sense of smell in hotel leads to drug arrest

ron.gallagher@newsobserver.comJuly 30, 2013 

— A Raleigh police officer’s nose led to the arrest of a Washington County man whom police charged with having almost a half-pound of marijuana in a room at a Best Western hotel on Capital Boulevard.

Louis Junior Spencer III, 33, of 206 Cross Road in Roper was arrested at about 6 a.m. Monday, according to a report.

An arrest warrant charged him with possession of 216 grams (0.48 pounds) marijuana with intent to sell or distribute it, maintaining the room as a place to keep and sell drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer D.E. Dodge said in asking for a search warrant for Spencer’s Room 131 that he had been on a foot patrol about 1 a.m. inside the hotel at 2715 Capital Blvd. when he smelled marijuana in a first-floor hallway.

The odor was strongest near Room 131, Dodge told a magistrate, and he smelled the same odor coming from the air-conditioning unit in the wall of that room when he went outside.

Spencer, Dodge said, answered a knock on his door and said he had just flushed a few grams of marijuana down the toilet but would not allow police to search the room without a warrant, Dodge said in his narrative.

With the warrant, they found 216 grams of marijuana as well as plastic bags with leafy residue in them, the charges and the search warrant said.

Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said it “is not unheard of” for officers to do foot patrols at buszinesses like hotels if they feel circumstances and their knowledge of their beats warrant it.

“It’s part of the department’s practice of intelligence-led policing,” Sughrue said. “It’s a policy that from time to time nets results.”

Including eight earlier foot patrols, police records show officers have been to the hotel more than 60 times since Jan. 1.

Spencer was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail for a court appearance Tuesday.

Gallagher 919-829-4572

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